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"Don't let any of us ever be complacent"

Thu 31 Jul 2014 In: New Zealand Daily News View at NDHA

Maryan Street addresses the forum Senior Rainbow Labour MP Maryan Street has warned against complacency, saying that as we stand up for lgbti rights overseas, we must also keep “watching our backs” at home. She was responding to a question was raised by Tony Simpson at the Rainbow Wellington pre-election forum this week about whether New Zealand should take a stand in the Commonwealth, where the majority of nations have anti-gay laws, and perhaps even boycott the Commonwealth Games. Maryan Street said there were a number of ways in which New Zealand could continue to “punch above its weight” in the international community, and taking a stand in the Commonwealth was one of them. “There are things that I believe New Zealand should have done and said in the last six years that the Government has not done and said,” Street, who is Labour’s foreign affairs and human rights spokesperson, told the audience at St Andrews on the Terrace. “We pulled up short in the Sri Lankan debate and did not support Britain or Canada in their moves to oppose Sir Lanka being the next Chair of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. And that was about human rights and war crimes and the treatment of citizens. These things are always hard-fought. “And don’t let any of us ever be complacent, because they also require constant vigilance. It is entirely possible, if there were a majority government elected under an MMP system in New Zealand, that things could be reversed. “I think it is absolutely incumbent on all of us, constantly, to be watching our backs, to make sure that the gains that we’ve fought for are retained and that we continue to push the boundaries forward.” Street spoke with great concern about the impacts of anti-gay laws in places such as Uganda, “not only the physical beatings, but the driving underground, the fear that goes with that kind of legislation”. She said New Zealand should not shy away from its obligations “to extend human rights which we work for and need to protect in New Zealand, to the rest of our brothers and sisters in the lgbti communities internationally.” Gay Green MP Kevin Hague recalled being part of the anti-apartheid movement, and said he believes boycotts could play a role in taking a stand over what’s happening in places like Uganda. “It may not be fast enough for the change we need to see, and I’m not sure that New Zealand is doing enough to lead that conversation, because it needs to be an international conversation rather than unilateral action.” He pointed to the “formidable trio” of Jan Logie, Louisa Wall and Tau Henare and their work when they visited Uganda, and said we needed to maintain that momentum.   We have an upcoming feature series looking at what representatives of various parties had to say at the pre-election forum coming soon.     

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Thursday, 31st July 2014 - 5:47pm

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