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Some of Maryan Street's greatest hits

Thu 25 Sep 2014 In: Features View at Wayback View at NDHA

She’s sharp, she’s passionate and she’s witty. Did you know she also has a damn fine singing voice? Or why she was driven to be out and show young people you can be gay and achieve whatever you want to? The 2011 Big Gay Out. Picture / Andrea The three-term MP is devastated at Labour's collapse in the polls last weekend which saw her miss out on returning to Parliament. But there is plenty to celebrate from her time in Parliament. We look back at just a few moments from a memorable nine years. 2014 - Rainbow Wellington Forum: "Don't let any of us ever be complacent" In what on reflection seems like a rather poignant statement, Street warned at the pre-election gathering in the capital: “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.” 2014, 2011 - Speaking up for gay Ugandans As Labour’s human rights spokeswoman, Street said the Government should add New Zealand to the list of countries which object to Uganda's anti-gay legislation. "Uganda cannot be left with the impression that this anti-gay, anti-human rights legislation is acceptable. It is not. The New Zealand government was limp in its response to human rights abuses and war crimes in Sri Lanka. Surely it can tell Uganda that we do not approve of this legislation on human rights grounds.” And on the 2011 murder of gay activist David Kato: "I am appalled that in these days anywhere around the world, that it is still considered legitimate by some to take another person's life because they are gay. And I think the age-old defence of provocation needs to be shovelled right back in its age-old box.” With the Labour crew at the 2014 Auckland Pride Parade 2013 - A modern family in practice On the day the marriage equality law passed, Street told media her own daughter was born to two mothers and two fathers. "She deserves a world where her family is as accepted as anybody else's." She also had a hand in one of the special turning points of the campaign – she was among the MPs National’s Paul Hutchison had discussions with before beatifully declaring “I simply cannot construct and intellectual, moral, spiritual or health argument against it.” 2012/2013 - Standing up for trans prisoners Street was among the MPs who successfully applied political pressure over the housing of MtF inmates in male prisons. “Assaults, especially sexual assaults on transgender prisoners whose sexual reassignment is not complete, are commonplace and predictable,” she said. “These compound the risk of self-harm, to which these people are already vulnerable. It is incumbent that Corrections revisits their policy in order to treat these prisoners humanely. Harm to these prisoners will be the responsibility of the Corrections Department if they do not.” 2012 - Return of an Auckland Pride Parade “It’s been a long time coming but it’s wonderful to be out here, proud and colourful, in the streets of Auckland. Congratulations to the Mayor and council of Auckland, this is just truly wonderful.” With Labour colleague Louisa Wall at the 2013 GABA Auction. Picture / Andrea Multiple years - Singing at the GABA Auction Among the numbers we’ve seen from her repertoire over the past few years include Hallelujah and Crying. She was a massive hit. We hope she’ll be back! 2011 - Blooming outrage Street is a friend of two of the nicest people in our community, Lindsay Curnow and Juliet Leigh, who had the packing shed for their Mangawhai Heads business Blooming Bulbs burned down by a nasty homophobe, who has never been found. Street pointed out: "Within two days of it becoming public, Lindsay had got 500 emails of support and outrage on their behalf from people she had never met. Just shows - for every one nutjob, there are 500 people who care. Must remember that." Maryan has been a strong advocate for Q-Youth Work with Q-Youth Nelson has been a leader in establishing queer-straight alliances high schools, something Street worked with Q-Youth on. She’s been the lgbti youth group’s Chair and Patron. She’s always made it clear she believes young people who think they are different from the majority of their peers have a safe environment to grow up in. "They need to know that they are accepted and supported for who they are, so they can grow up into secure, confident adults who move in the world with the same rights as everyone else.” 2010 - “Dear Ban Ki-moon” Street wrote to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressing her party's "great dismay" at the removal of sexual orientation from a resolution condemning arbitrary execution by Governments. "It will have the effect of delivering people who are even perceived to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender directly into the hands of those who are barely constrained by legal processes as it is. The deletion of this reference heightens the danger in which many people already live. To compound risks for these people is unconscionable. For that action to come out of the United Nations is a shame.” She was delighted when it was restored. 2009 – Top work Johanna In 2009 she congratulated Iceland's Johanna Sigurdardottir on becoming the world's first openly lesbian Prime Minister. "This is a wonderful demonstration of the fact that lesbians can get to the top of any profession - something we all know - but not without cost …Hey, she's 66 too - a strike for older women as well!" 2008 - AIDS Candlelight Memorial: “Never forget” "I think our greatest current concern is our own complacency. Honouring those who have died surely must involve learning from their experiences?" Street stated. “We had this almost under control in the 90s through persistent and targeted campaigns. We can do it again.” With the Labour team at the 2012 Big Gay Out. Picture / Andrea 2006 - The Great Hero Debate Will anyone who was there ever be able to forget Street’s story involving Dame Cath Tizard and a highland fling performed in public without the aid of a sports bra?! The tragedy which drives her "I remember teaching a boy years ago who was clearly gay, even though we never talked about it. As a gay school teacher myself, it was difficult to be as supportive of him as I wanted to be, because of the vulnerability of gay and lesbian teachers in those days. A few years after he left school, he committed suicide. I vowed then that I would be as supportive and as brave as I could be for young people. It is well documented that "queer" (gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender) youth comprise a large proportion of youth suicides. I want to show young people that you can be gay and achieve whatever you want to.” 2005 - Inaugural speech: "As a lesbian, I have often been the subject of others' efforts to push me to the margins, to erode my legitimacy as a citizen and to belittle my efforts and achievements because I am a member of a minority," she said. "I have never accepted marginalisation. It is a construct of others who wish me to be marginalised – it is not where I see myself, or the many others like me. But it has always required courage." Read the whole speech here Maryan Street, in the 1990s a Labour Party President, was a Labour MP from 2005-2014, during which time she was Minister of Housing and ACC. She was most recently the opposition spokesperson on State Services, Tertiary Education, Disarmament and Human Rights and was trying to progress a bill on voluntary euthanasia. Before entering Parliament, she was a teacher, a union official, an academic and an industrial relations practitioner. Check out a bit of classic Maryan in the video below. Jacqui Stanford - 25th September 2014    

Credit: Jacqui Stanford

First published: Thursday, 25th September 2014 - 9:12am

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