Rainbow Labour, the LGBT branch of the New Zealand Labour Party, has waded into the controversy surrounding the Out Takes Reel Queer Film Festival prize offer of a trip to Fiji – a country that still retains anti-gay legislation on its books. The Festival's offer of a prize for two adults to the Fiji resort has drawn strong condemnation from the New Zealand AIDS Foundation and the HIV positive support group Body Positive Auckland, not only due to the anti-gay laws, but the Fijian government's denial of entry for HIV positive people. Rainbow Labour has since partnered with Out Takes to launch two petitions, first circulated at the Out Takes Grand Opening in Wellington last Thursday. The first is a letter to the Fijian government asking them to clarify their position regarding 'carnal knowledge' – as a criminal offence between consenting adults; to uphold last year's Fijian High Court's decision that declared that law to be unconstitutional; and to reverse their policy of denying entry for those who are HIV positive. The second is a petition to the New Zealand Parliament, asking them to seek the same clarification from Fiji. Michael Wilson of Rainbow Labour said they had "noted the concern expressed in the community about the prize trip to Fiji," and "we felt Out Takes, through no fault of its own, was attracting negative feedback from the community it serves…" "We suggested a joint petition would be a good way of clearly stating the opposition of both organisations to the stance taken by the Fijian government, which we note is completely at odds with the Fijian Constitution." Furthermore, the petitions "are a good way [to assist] the queer community to make their views on this issue known to both the Fijian and New Zealand governments." The petition to the Fijian government will likely be presented to the Fijian High Commission in Wellington, and the New Zealand petition will be tabled in Parliament by an MP. “Our expectation is that the petition will go to a select committee who will consider it and then report back to Parliament,” said Wilson. Wilson said there was no conflict of interest, given the close association between Rainbow Labour and the current Labour-led government. He notes that the Rainbow issues section of the Labour Party's 2005 manifesto specifically states that they would "actively support efforts in international forums to condemn discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation through the international human rights framework." "New Zealand has a very strong record of taking a principled stand in all our international relationships and we are simply asking for the government to do the same thing again on this issue," said Wilson. Out Takes have expressed their concern that since deciding to offer the prize, it has now come to light that the Fijian government is out of step with its own constitution, in maintaining and continuing to enforce anti-gay laws. The petitions will be carried by GayNZ.com from Thursday 8 June. Members of the public will be able to download and print each petition, encourage friends and family sign them, and return them to Maryan Street, MP.
Credit: GayNZ.com News Staff
First published: Wednesday, 7th June 2006 - 12:00pm
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