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No time for tolerance at Maxim forum

Thu 15 Sep 2005 In: New Zealand Daily News

Progressive MP Matt Robson found himself double-teamed yesterday when he tried to defend the gay and lesbian community at a political forum held by the Christian think-tank Maxim Institute. Speaking at the Papatoetoe Town Hall to a crowd of 200, Robson was one of nine party representatives on the panel, as was Destiny NZ leader Richard Lewis. Robson hit back at anti-gay rhetoric delivered during Lewis's speech, saying 10 per cent of the population were gay or lived in relationships with people outside marriage. "Do we want to be like Hitler's Germany and put pink triangles on people?" he asked. "Do we want to be like the Destiny Church who preach bigotry and divide our people?" Lewis was then given extra time to reply by Maxim head Greg Fleming, who chaired the meeting. Former policeman Lewis, whose shady record saw him ejected from the force, said he was sad that he could not stand up for what he believed in without being called a bigot. "I stand for the values that founded this nation, and they are Christian. If you don't like that, get over it," he said. Maxim has been holding political forums around the country, which they claim are non-partisan. Legal counsel Nicki Taylor says the think tank has no official links with political parties or formal links with a single church. The NZ Herald this morning describes Maxim as "one of the most active forces of the 2005 election campaign", with attendees of its political forums clearly aligned to the parties of the right. Maxim campaigned vigorously against the Civil Union Act and its companion Relationships Act, which gave gay and lesbian couples equal protection to straight couples under the law. Despite positioning themselves as a political force to be reckoned with, the Maxim Institute's work is subsidised by the taxpayer as they are registered as an "educational charity". Charitable status under tax laws is usually denied to groups who are engaged in political lobbying.    

Credit: News Staff

First published: Thursday, 15th September 2005 - 12:00pm

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