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Next step "openly-gay Governor General"

Sun 7 Dec 2014 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback

Matthew Muir is sworn in by Chief Justice Sian Elias Friday's appointment of an openly gay High Court judge means the main fight against institutionalised homophobia is over, according to one of the authors of the Homosexual Law Reform Bill. Lawyer Matthew Muir was raised to the High Court Bench with his sexuality, partner and life experience being acknowledged and welcomed during his swearing-in. I think it's perfectly clear that the game's over,” says lawyer Alan Ivory. He and fellow lawyer Don McMorland sat down in a Queen Street cafe, just days after an Auckland gay sauna was raided and its staff and patrons arrested and publicly identified in the early 1980s, to write what became the Homosexual Law Reform Bill. It was subsequently passed by Parliament in 1986 and finally liberated gay men in New Zealand from legalised oppression. But the bill was viciously opposed by conservative, religious and homophobic elements in society including main churches, on the grounds that it would usher in all manner of social and moral ills and lead to the destruction of the New Zealand way of life. “It's as simple as that... we've won completely,” Ivory says. “The appointment of an openly gay high court judge means society has turned around 180 degrees. We have always had gay people at all levels of society but what we have now is gay people openly all through society.” Ivory believes there is now no barrier to a glbti person even becoming Governor General. “There's absolutely nothing now in the way of an openly gay Governor General because the sexuality of a Governor General is now absolutely irrelevant.” Ivory admits that as he helped draft the legislation and as the battle for freedom raged up and down the country he never thought gay equality would extend as far as the heights of the judiciary. “No. No I didn't. We always knew [homosexual law reform] was always an educative proposal, not a criminal proposal. Because actually very few people were being prosecuted. What we knew was that it would change society and that it would make us acceptable, far from ever thinking that we would get gay marriage or an appointment to the high court, we didn't even dream of that.” The aim was acceptability in society, Ivory says. “Our objective was much narrower, and that was to shift us into a position where we could claim acceptability. While we were criminals we couldn't claim acceptability. Once we ceased to be criminals we could then start to insist on being treated as acceptable people in society.”    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Sunday, 7th December 2014 - 6:09pm

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