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New gay MPs debut in Parliament

Fri 19 Dec 2008 In: Features View at Wayback View at NDHA

Labour's Grant Robertson New Zealand's two new gay MPs have made their maiden speeches as Parliament meets for the first time since the election. Wellington's new Labour MP Grant Robertson said he was "humbled by those who have gone before me" in representing the high-profile electorate. One of them, Fran Wilde, "showed enormous courage and fortitude" in sponsoring the Homosexual Law Reform Act, Robertson told the House. "Fran of course left this Parliament to play a key role in the development of this absolutely, positively wonderful city, and continues to serve the region today." Robertson also acknowledged other LGBT MPs "who have broken ground in this Parliament". "In particular I want to salute my colleagues Chris Carter and Maryan Street. In his maiden speech 15 years ago Chris Carter said that he hoped his presence in the House would make it easier for other gays and lesbians to aspire to political or community office. For my part, I can say that it has. "I am proud and comfortable with who I am. Being gay is part of who I am, just as is being a former diplomat, a fan of the mighty Ranfurly Shield holding Wellington Lions or New Zealand music and literature. My political view is defined by my sexuality only in as much as it has given me an insight into how people can be marginalised or discriminated against, and how much I abhor that. I am lucky that I have largely grown up in a generation that is not fixated on issues such as sexual orientation. I am not - and neither should others be," he said. "I am here today on the strength of support from friends and family. In particular I want to acknowledge the support and love of my partner Alf. We are living proof that it pays not to stereotype - we met playing rugby. I was the No 8 and he was the halfback. A great combination. I also have had the pleasure of sharing in his two children growing up over the last ten years, and being part of his wider whänau. Taku aroha i a koe." Robertson concluded his speech by stating his reason for entering the political arena: his belief in social justice. "My desire is to play a part in making my community, my city, my country and the world a fairer and more equal place. It is that equality that will drive aspiration, opportunity and success for all. In my time in this Parliament it is my commitment that I will work to build an ever better, fairer New Zealand where we seek to ensure that achieving your potential is not just the preserve of the privileged but possible for all." Grant Robertson's maiden speech is shown below. The Greens' Kevin Hague The Green Party's new gay MP Kevin Hague also spoke of his reasons for entering politics. "I come to this House hoping to make a significant personal contribution to those issues which are important to me, most especially the future of the planet upon which we live and depend, and the type of society that our children and grandchildren will inherit." Along with calls for action on central Green Party issues such as ecological protection and environmental sustainability, Hague mentioned that he enters Parliament bringing with him the hopes and expectations of a range of groups, including bike riders, clean river campaigners, those who work in public health, and the LGBT community: "Gay men, lesbian women and the wider rainbow family, who demand truly equal rights and equal opportunity," he said. "My potential to disappoint is great," he smiled, adding: "I do not experience these expectations as a crushing or repressive weight, but rather as a surging wave that bears me up and sustains me." Kevin Hague's maiden speech is shown below. Both Grant Robertson and Kevin Hague have now joined LGBT network Rainbow Wellington as Vice-Patrons. "So, with Chris Finlayson, Maryan Street and Charles Chauvel all re-elected, we now have Vice-Patrons from the three largest parties in Parliament, which cannot be a bad thing," says Rainbow Wellington's Chair Tony Simpson. Matt Akersten - 19th December 2008    

Credit: Matt Akersten

First published: Friday, 19th December 2008 - 5:44pm

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