A cheering, stamping and whistling standing ovation for Fran Wilde, and the first ever mayoral welcome for gays and lesbians to a formal civic occasion in their honour, marked the 20th Anniversary of Homosexual Law Reform in Auckland last night. Over 400 gays, lesbians and transgendered people of all ages gathered at the Auckland Town Hall for a celebration hosted by Mayor Dick Hubbard and paid for by the Auckland City Council. Mayor Hubbard received enthusiastic applause when, backed by a vast rainbow flag, he spoke of his wish to see Auckland become an inclusive city. Other speakers included deputy Mayor Bruce Hucker and gay government minister Chris Carter. In the audience were nearly all the country's other gay and lesbian MPs including Tim Barnett, Georgina Beyer and Maryan Street, and Waitakere City Mayor Bob Harvey. Speakers paid tribute to those involved in the Auckland Gay Task Force who helped coordinate community action for the bill over 18 months of public meetings and in face of intense opposition. Singled out for particular mention were Ian Scott, Bruce Kilmister, Warren Lindberg, Tony Hughes and the two lawyers who drafted the Law Reform Bill and its aborted predecessor, Don McMorland and Alan Ivory. But the highlight of the evening was a speech by Fran Wilde who, as a new MP, took on presenting the bill to Parliament and handling its progress through the house. Wilde saluted the courage of the thousands of ‘criminalised' gay men throughout the country who came out of the closet in 1985 and ‘86 to show the real and human face of homosexuality, and the many lesbians who joined the battle to finally decriminalise male homosexual acts. Wilde recalled especially the level of “viciousness and vileness” of the campaign against decriminalisation, observing that in the end their bitterness worked in favour of the Bill. Noting the “intense and obsessive” hatred of homosexuality expressed by the likes of then-MP Norm Jones and then-Prime Minister Rob Muldoon, she said “hatred can never win,” to whistles and cheers. Wilde warned that the Christian fundamentalism which drove much of the opposition to Law Reform is now reasserting itself, and was enthusiastically cheered when she said that despite last week's muted apology by the Salvation Army for its deep involvement in the anti-Law Reform campaign “I have never since given them a cent for their work and for the rest of my life I never will.” Entertainment for the champagne and nibbles function was provided by Jools Topp (Lynda was home ill) and Billy Farnell. The previous evening almost 150 people gathered at Rydges Hotel to remember some of Auckland's long gone and pre-Law Reform venues and after the Town Hall function Urge Bar held a special party night recapturing the “glory days” of Staircase and Alfies nightclubs with 80s fashions, music and drinks prices.
Credit: GayNZ.com News Staff
First published: Sunday, 9th July 2006 - 12:00pm
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