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The Deluge Arrives

Thu 5 Feb 2015 In: Comment View at Wayback View at NDHA

After the holiday hiatus, February 2015 looks to be an eventful month. What significance to LGBT rights do recent current political events have? 1. Russell Norman's retirement as leader: Russell Norman has been a highly effective Green Party co-leader, but despite the fact that he and Metiria Turei have succeeded in elevating the Green Party total voter share from eight to thirteen percent, after failing to proceed any further, he has decided to end his tenure as Greens co-leader later this year. Norman became Greens male co-leader after the tragically premature death of Rod Donald, the first to hold the post. His political style and direction tended to remind some left political commentators of the German Greens and their growing centrism after the radical cultural and social policies of the eighties and early nineties. His replacement may be either No 3 Green Party List MP Kevin Hague, or Wellington Green List MP James Shaw. LGBT voters have always had time for the Greens, whose parliamentary presence has helped to pass the Care of Children Act, Civil Union Act, Statutory Reference Amendment Act and Marriage Amendment Act. The party has also supported Louisa Wall's initiative to add gender identity to the Human Rights Act and opposed the transphobic and defunct Manukau City Council (Regulating Prostitution in Specified Places) Bill. Given that the LGBT community, environmental and peace movements originally emerged in the same sixties New Left political context, this isn't surprising. If Hague should be successful, he would become the second gay man to lead a green parliamentary party in the British Commonwealth- the first was Senator Bob Brown (Tasmania) in the Australian federal upper house, who recently retired. Hague is a former chief executive of the New Zealand AIDS Foundation and West Coast District Health Board. James Shaw seems to come from the same managerial/professional mould as the outgoing Russell Norman. Given that the Greens parliamentary caucus unanimously support LGBT political initiatives, there seems to be little problem if Shaw wins. However, Hague has considerable practical managerial presence as well. No, this isn't Tony Abbott- even if he is also swamped... 2. The Fall of Tony Abbott?: With the loss of Victoria and now Queensland to a resurgent and unified Australian Labor Party Opposition, it seems as if Tony Abbott's days as Australian federal Prime Minister are numbered. Liberal caucus backbenchers are now openly talking about a leadership coup and have already approached Deputy Prime Minister Julie Bishop and current Communication Minister Malcolm Turnbull. Both are keeping a low profile, not wishing to be seen as the one who precipitated what now seems to be the inevitable deposition of Abbott. At the time he became federal Australian Prime Minister, some social liberal sceptics wondered if Abbott's 'victory' was due to the factional dysfunction of the Australian Labor Party between Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard and widespread incumbency fatigue amongst long-lived Australian Labor Party state governments in New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria. It seems to be the case that it was indeed that set of fortuitous circumstances, which have been quickly undone by Joe Hockey's black budget, austerity policies and dysfunctional federal/state relationships. Abbott's religious social conservatism is also highly unpopular. While Bishop's perspective on marriage equality is unknown, rival leadership contender Malcolm Turnbull represents a metropolitan electorate and is supportive of a Liberal caucus conscience vote on the issue. If the Liberal/National Coalition had retained Queensland, Abbott might have been able to stave off what now seems to be inevitable. Or will he call a snap election? In Australian politics, those have a habit of backfiring. 3. Housing Policy: Early opinion polls seem to suggest that the honeymoon may finally be over for New Zealand's Key administration, with Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little impressing political commentators over the Labour Opposition's forthright opposition to the current government's partial asset sale of state housing stock to "private providers" when it comes to "social housing." LGBT New Zealanders should be wary of this. As with fundamentalist churches and charter schools, there is real danger for weak and vulnerable sectors of LGBTI communities if it turns out to be conservative Christian social housing providers that take up administration and management of current state housing stock. While lesbian, gay and bisexual renters are protected by the Human Rights Act 1993's sexual orientation provisions, transgendered people must rely only on the Crown Law Office's opinion on interpretation of the Human Rights Act, 'reading" gender identity" into gender. However, if the Crown Law Office opinion has legal force, then why is it that the Salvation Army continues to refuse to house transwomen in gender-appropriate emergency housing? We urgently need research into the scale and magnitude of transgender exclusion from state housing access and tenure. It is time that LGBTI communities declared ourselves as stakeholders in current housing policy debates. For that reason, relevant overseas research on housing policy, LGBT concerns, access, exclusion and discrimination is listed in the recommended readings section below. Recommended: Green Party: http://www. Kevin Hague profile: James Shaw profile: Chris Uhlmann: "LNP rout in Queensland catastrophic and leaves Tony Abbott terminally wounded" ABC Online: 01.02.2015: 6060126 Andrew Little: State of the Nation Address: Scoop: 28.01.2015: htm Prime Minister: State of Nation Address: Radio New Zealand: 28.01.2015: speech Sandra Huiskemiller and Sara Luitjers: "Gay Astray: The Young and the Homeless" Mate: Winter 2011: 44-51. Albert Kennedy Trust: Stonewall UK: National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce: An Epidemic of Homelessness (2007): youth Jamie Grant, Lisa Mottet and Justin Tanis: Injury at Every Turn: A Report on the National Transgender Discrimination Survey: Washington DC: National Center for Transgender Equality: 2011: Craig Young - 5th February 2015    

Credit: Craig Young

First published: Thursday, 5th February 2015 - 9:02am

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