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Election '08: Parties speak up for gay votes

Fri 4 Apr 2008 In: New Zealand Daily News

The 2008 New Zealand General Election is still half a year away, but three political parties - Labour, the Greens, and the Progressives - are already highlighting reasons why they deserve our gay community's two ticks on Election Day. In a piece written for this week, openly-gay Labour MP Tim Barnett sought to position the Labour Party as the natural choice for Aotearoa's LGBT people. "Of the major political groupings only Labour and maybe the Greens choose to have particular, positive messages for and commitments to our queer communities," he wrote. "Labour does this through having Rainbow MPs, Rainbow candidates, Rainbow policy commitments in its policy manifesto and a Rainbow section in its political party make-up." Barnett warned that other political parties had "distinctly unwelcome messages for queer people, hoping that the language of hate and fear of us will be attractive to some others." Rainbow Greens spokesperson Dr. Nancy Higgins was quick to respond to Barnett, pointing out a number of policies the Green Party have adopted that support LGBT Kiwis. "Rainbow Labour is not the only political party that considers queer interests as part of its organisation," she wrote. "The Green Party has a national Rainbow Green Group that meets and discusses queer issues on a regular basis." Higgins claims that the Greens were the only party voted to support the introduction of Civil Unions as a matter of policy rather than conscience, and the party has a sexual orientation policy stating that all legal partnership arrangements and rights should be the same for all couples - no matter what their sexuality. Tony Simpson, the Progressive Party spokesperson on LGBT issues, has also contacted to voice his party's support for our community. "The Progressives and their predecessor parties have long standing policies in favour of this and a range of further pro-gay issues," he writes. Simpson takes issue with Tim Barnett's statement that Labour is the only party with a clear pro-gay policy, and disagrees that the Greens alone voted in favour of civil unions as a matter of policy rather than conscience. "Apparently Tim has yet to catch up with the fact that Labour's sole coalition party in government, the Progressives, has clear and distinctive pro-gay policies," Simpson observed. "Perhaps Mr Barnett would like to tell us where his party stands on gay adoption for example, and why after nine years in government we still don't have it."    

Credit: News Staff

First published: Friday, 4th April 2008 - 2:36pm

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