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Bravery of men who came out for HLR saluted

Sun 10 Jul 2016 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback View at NDHA

Leaders of the 1980s campaign for Homosexual Law Reform last evening paid tribute to the bravery of gay and bisexual men who came out in order to put human faces to the campaign. Peter Wall speaking at the Auckland civic reception last evening Many New Zealanders had believed that gay men were "child molesters, predators and truly awful people," Fran Wilde, who helmed the Parliamentary campaign for reform, told a packed Sky City conference centre gala evening. But hundreds of men came out in newspaper advertisements and to family, friends and communities. "Those men who came out in 1985 and '86 put themselves at considerable risk," Wilde said. "If the homosexual reform bill had not passed they would have been targeted." The dangers they faced were earlier illustrated in a Nga Taonga video, played almost simultaneously in Wellington and Auckland which presented video clips showing the levels and hatred and misinformation spouted by the, mostly religious, opponents of the bill. One of the main strategists and public faces of the campaign, Peter Wall of the Auckland Gay Task Force, said at a civic reception earlier in the evening that despite the levels of bigotry, stigma and "repellent views" aired during the campaign many good people supported the campaign, often at risk of friendships and their careers. "Helen Clark as a new MP supported the cause of equality for glbti people right from the start," he noted. "Clearly in retrospect supporting glbti rights is not necessarily a bad career move." Wall, who sat at the civic reception front table with his Wellington campaign counterpart, Bill Logan, saluted the bravery and hard work put in by "the campaign's foot soldiers", including the owners of the Out! gay-focused businesses, Tony Katavich, John Kiddie and Brett Sheppard, all now deceased. "I wish I could thank them in person," he said.    

Credit: Daily News staff

First published: Sunday, 10th July 2016 - 1:13pm

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