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Election Night 10.45PM: New MP Street says pro-gay stance has hurt Labour

Sat 17 Sep 2005 In: Features

Labour's embracing of glbt issues during its past six years in government has clearly given conservative parties a rallying point against it, according to Labour's new lesbian list MP Maryan Street, and she says the glbt fear mongering is likely to continue. Although avoiding admitting that support for our issues has actually hurt Labour in the closely contested election, Street, a ex-Labour Party president, says glbt-related issues have “flushed out strident conservatism in the electorate, which has become mobilised. It's noisier than its numbers.” Counteracting that noise has been kiwi voters' sense of fair play, says Street. “I think most kiwis believe in giving people a fair go, and most kiwis would prefer not to discriminate against people on grounds such as sexuality. I think what we have is a vocal and entrenched minority that is extremely conservative, and they are making more noise than their numbers warrant. In particular, centrist parties have been able to some extent capitalise on anti-gay rights sentiment. “It's given the National Party a platform for scare mongering, and the kind of dog-whistle politics that we've become familiar with during the course of this campaign. But people who are ardently out there to tear people like me down, themselves don't have enough numbers to do any harm. But what they do do is provide a platform for others to capitalise on, and that's what causes us the problem.” Street, speaking from New Plymouth, doubts that glbt-issue fear mongering will disappear after the election. “They'll use it quite cynically to exacerbate incipient fears or insecurities in the community that people then feel able to verbalise. - 17th September 2005    


First published: Saturday, 17th September 2005 - 12:00pm

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