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Homosexuals and Homogenous?

Mon 10 Jun 2002 In: Comment

With the general election announced for 27 July openly gay, lesbian and transgender candidates are now standing for several parties. To date, my not exhaustive list includes: Labour Chris Carter Georgina Beyer Tim Barnett Tony Milne Greens Richard Davies Progressive Coalition Myself Act Michael Coote So far I am unaware that there is anyone openly gay or lesbian standing for the National Party or NZ First. With regard to the National Party there are of course those rumours that have floated about for years about certain National Party Cabinet Ministers who either conveniently absent themselves from the House when Parliament is about to vote on issues directly affecting our community or those who conveniently get married when they first enter 'public life'. Nevertheless with MMP most parties now seem to try to ensure that they have a diverse range of people on their party list in order to appeal to the cross section of society that is New Zealand. Hence people of Maori, Pacific, Asian origin compete on lists and in constituencies for positions with gay and lesbian candidates. This raises several interesting points. For example how much is tokenism and how much is a genuine commitment by the party to safeguard our community and promote our interests. Secondly why is it that parties of the left (Labour, Progressives, Greens, Alliance) appear to have more openly gay candidates than the parties on the right (National, Act, NZ First) and lastly are gay and lesbian voters swayed just by having openly queer candidates to vote for. To answer the last question first it has been my experience that very few NZ voters tend to be one issue voters. Not many people vote for a party just because they promise to be for or against abortion or GE or tougher prison sentences. Rather it is the combination of issues with the predominant issue probably being if anything else, the economy and whether one particular party is good for the economy or not. With the economy going well at the moment (especially in light of "911" as the Americans say) you can understand Labour's lead in the polls and their desire to capitalise with the early election. It is also my experience, that while the ranks of the Labour Party are brimming full (to overflowing?) with gay and lesbian candidates the political viewpoint of our community is actually more widespread. Indeed although there are no opinion polls that I am aware of I suspect a great number of gays and lesbians actually follow the right/conservative parties - perhaps more than many would have us believe. So while we may all be homosexuals we are not all homogenous. Why this is not reflected in the National Party list is something that they need to answer. So good luck to my fellow candidates and good luck to you voters. I hope all decisions will be made by people weighing up consistency along with the promises for the future. Trevor Barnard June 2002 Trevor Barnard - 10th June 2002    

Credit: Trevor Barnard

First published: Monday, 10th June 2002 - 12:00pm

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