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30 years on: The "Nuremberg Rally"

Thu 24 Sep 2015 In: Our Communities View at NDHA

Today marks 30 years since one of the most vile days in our community's history. The weird and creepy ‘Nuremberg Rally’ against Homosexual Law Reform arrived at Parliament. It was organised by the ‘Coalition of Concerned Citizens’ who were presenting a crock Salvation Army-endorsed petition to Parliament. Supporters claimed they had 800,000 signatures – but many of the boxes were nearly empty and many sheets had numerous ‘signatures’ all written by the same hand! As Hugh Young writes for history site “A platoon of young people - women in blue uniforms, men in white shirts - carrying New Zealand flags and wearing sashes emblazoned with the CCC’s motto, assembled on the steps. The motto, "FOR GOD, FOR COUNTRY, FOR FAMILY" summed up the Coalition’s religious/patriotic/patriarchal purpose. “This performance was masterminded by Jack Swann, PRO of the Catholic Archdiocese of New York, brought over specially by the CCC, but he badly miscalculated the New Zealand public’s taste for militaristic spectacles." They handed over their boxes of ‘petitions’ to MPs Norman Jones, Graeme Lee, John Banks and Geoff Braybrooke. Bill Logan, a front man for the Gay Task Force of 1984-86, recounts the day: He says it was “a surreal American-inspired comic-opera… a truly bizarre spectacle – a tawdry echo of a Nuremberg Rally – which at the same time was both frightening and funny, with its flags and sashes, and military precision.” The anti-gay group was mocked by Homosexual Law Reform campaigners who turned up to Parliament, especially when they realised the boxes were light on content. A number of people were arrested for leaping barriers, while the petition’s supporters were on the other hand given unprecedented access to Parliament. Fran Wilde spoke through a loudhailer, as Hugh Young writes: “Agitated herself, she attempted to calm supporters down. Later, she commented "I thought, ‘What is New Zealand coming to?’ I had never seen anything like that before in my life. But there were Jewish people out there in the crowd who had seen it all before." The weird event, which was dubbed 'The Nuremberg Rally', ended with petition supporters singing Onward Christian Soldiers and God Defend New Zealand. Many signatures were later found to be false, duplicate or forged, and tales swirled of people being threatened with the likes of “if you don’t sign, you must be a poofter too”. Some signatures were from children and people with mental disabilities. But as we know, sense and justice beat the bigots in the end. Jacqui Stanford - 24th September 2015    

Credit: Jacqui Stanford

First published: Thursday, 24th September 2015 - 9:05am

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