24 July 1974, New Zealand Parliament
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Mr V. S. YOUNG (Egmont)—I move, That leave be given to introduce the Crimes Amendment Bill. This Bill provides for making homosexual acts committed in private between consenting males, 21 years or over, no longer a criminal offence; it gives greater protection to male children under 16 years from being sexually molested by males of 21 or over; it protects mentally ill persons from homosexual acts; and it makes homosexual and heterosexual acts of prostitution, procuring, importuning, and living off the earnings of prostitution equally unlawful—an area of law where the present statute is inadequate. As with the law relating to capital punishment, and to any other law dealing with moral issues, the proposal to remove the threat of conviction from the acts of adult male homosexuals, consenting and in private, there will be sincerely and deeply held views both for and against. I am convinced, however, that the law should be changed. If I fail to act on that conviction because of consequences to my political career, then, as I see it, I fail in my duty. I well understand the views of those who are opposed to change. These were the views I myself held over many years. I have now changed those views after considered and serious study. However, in presenting this Bill to Parliament I give notice that I will seek to have the Bill referred to the Statutes Revision Committee for the hearing of evidence from people of differing opinions on the proposed changes in the law or suggested amendments to the provisions in this Bill. Furthermore, because of the conflict of opinion in the community on this subject, I consider these hearings should be open to the press. There will be those who will claim that this measure will lower moral standards. That claim is untrue. Values are established by society, not by the law. I consider it Parliament's duty, in the light of new knowledge, at least to examine the law. If our Parliament, having examined the law, thinks fit to alter it, then New Zealand will bring its legislation into line with that in other Western countries. In the United Kingdom, in Canada, and in South Australia the law has been changed. In the Federal Parliament of Australia a similar resolution was moved by John Gorton, former Prime Minister, seconded by the Minister for the Environment, and supported by the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Country Party. These men were well aware of the controversial nature of the subject, but they were also aware of their responsibilities. That other countries have changed the law is, of course, not in itself sufficient reason for New Zealand's doing the same, but it does challenge us to examine the reasoning behind their moves and consider whether that reasoning does not apply equally to us. A homosexual is not a homosexual of his own choice; he is either born one or is made one, probably during the early months of his life. Through no fault or virtue of his own he is headed for homosexuality or heterosexuality. In my view the removal of the thread of criminal conviction from the homosexual, under the circumstances stated previously, will not make, and is not intended to make, his actions more socially acceptable, though it does imply recognition of his condition. There is no law on the statute book of New Zealand which prohibits adultery or promiscuity, but the absence of such a law does not make these practices socially acceptable. There must always remain a distinction between what is moral and what is legal; if this were not so, homosexual law reform would not be supported by the Methodist Church, the Presbyterian Church, some dioceses of the Anglican Church, the Associated Churches of Christ, and the National Council of Churches. They, together with a growing body of informed opinion—doctors, psychiatrists, social workers, and lawyers—consider that the best way to help the homosexual to come to terms with himself is through a change in the law. This also will allow society to come to terms with a problem in society. It is important for us to do this. The paedophiliac, or child molester, is in a different category. Society must protect the young and innocent from such persons. To that end I propose an increase in the penalties available to courts in punishment of such offences. There will be no increase in the number of homosexuals if this Bill becomes law. The law does not make or unmake homosexuals. If it did, past Parliaments would stand condemned for not having legislated against lesbianism, or female homosexuality, against which the law has made no conviction. Clause 2 provides for an increase in the maximum penalty where there is indecency between a man and a boy. Although I accept that paederasty is quite separate from homosexuality, I consider the actions of the paedophiliac as reprehensible as that of rape. I therefore propose to equate the maximum penalty for this crime with the penalty for rape—that is a prison sentence not exceeding 14 years. Clause 3 removes criminal conviction for homosexual acts in private between consenting male adults of 21 years and over. However, this provision does not apply to any homosexual act to which one of the parties is a patient as described by the Mental Health Act 1969, or where consent is obtained involuntarily, or to any indecent assault. Any age is arbitrary; 21 has been chosen since Parliament did not see fit to alter this age in sections 141 and 142 of the Crimes Act when considering the Age of Majority Act 1969. This age also coincides with that in similar overseas statutes. In all other respects the laws against indecent acts between males are unaltered. Clauses 4 to 7 strengthen the existing laws relating to the keeping of places of resort for prostitution and procuring. The intention of these clauses is to make homosexual and heterosexual acts of prostitution, procuring, importuning, and living off the earnings of prostitution equally unlawful. Clause 8 provides that certain prosecutions pending at the passing of this Act shall be withdrawn. The reasons for this clause are that homosexual acts, by their nature and by the nature of police investigation, frequently come to light a considerable time after they were committed, and it is only humanitarian that no prosecution should be brought for a stale offence. The British Parliament thought this was a proper measure to take when it enacted its law reform in 1967. As a father of five sons I have asked myself time and again, when considering the amendments proposed in this Bill: do they meet my requirements for the protection of society, particularly the young, yet at the same time deal with the problems of the homosexual in a way that can help him to come to terms with his condition and allow society to understand his problems more fully without first branding him a criminal? [Time extended.] In seeking leave to introduce this Bill into Parliament I am seeking to introduce a change in the law relating to these offences. I do not pretend that the Bill is perfect, but I suggest to the House that it is timely, particularly considering legislative moves in overseas countries. It is timely for us to consider this matter, and if this Bill receives its first reading then I shall ask that it be referred to the Statutes Revision Committee to allow the public to make submissions on it and I hope the committee will report the Bill back to this Chamber with a recommendation.
Hon. Dr A. M. FINLAY (Minister of Justice)—I want to make it quite clear at the outset that I give this Bill an unequivocal welcome, but I do so in terms that I hope will be a little less dramatic than some of the words used by the honourable member—not in this House, because his speech here was commendably moderate, but in some of the remarks that accompanied the announcement of his intent to introduce the Bill. There was in those remarks an element of drama that overemphasised the importance of what was proposed. My own view is that this reform is long overdue and ought to be attended to quickly, without fuss and fanfare. If it comes to a vote I will certainly vote for this Bill in the House today, but I hope that it will not come to a vote; I hope the Bill will be referred to a committee without any such formality, and that when it comes back to the House time will be found for it to proceed through the remaining stages that are necessary for it to become a formal part of the law of this country, whether in the form in which it goes to the committee or in an amended form. In saying that I welcome the Bill unequivocally, I want it to be noted that I do not commit myself explicitly to the exact language that is in the honourable member's Bill. I have seen a draft Bill prepared by the Homosexual Law Reform Society, and at first consideration I think it is a better instrument. And, of course, other laws have recently been passed in a number of other countries, as the honourable member has reminded us; so it may very well be that the text and even the substance of this measure call for revision. But the general intent of the Bill is plain. It gives substantial effect to the findings of the Wolfenden committee of 1957. I believe the proper course is for it to go to a committee and to be considered there. For that reason I do not propose to concern myself with the details of the measure at this stage. This is of course a subject that merits the closest possible consideration, if only because of the manner—the almost furtive way—in which it came into our law in the first instance. We, of course, derive our law in this respect from that of the United Kingdom, where it was formulated in 1885 and became part of the law by what has become known as the Labouchere amendment. Henry Labouchere, a member of Parliament in 1885, was something of an eccentric and had gained a reputation for presenting unexpected and often inappropriate amendments to legislation. In that year there was introduced into the House of Lords the English Criminal Law Amendment Bill, which curiously enough, did not apply to homosexual women; and there is a legend, possibly apocryphal, attributing some responsibility for that omission to Queen Victoria. When it was introduced the Bill was entitled as one to make “further provision for the protection of women and girls, the suppression of brothels, and other purposes”. That was the long title, and accurately described the purpose of the legislation, which was passed through all its stages in the House of Lords. It was given an unopposed second reading in the Commons and committed to a Committee of the Whole House. During that stage, at 2.30 in the morning, Henry Labouchere proposed a clause which would create a new offence of indecency between adult males in private. A member inquired whether it was not out of order to move an amendment which dealt with a totally different class of offence from those contemplated by the Bill to which the House had given a second reading, and, the Speaker having ruled that anything could be introduced by leave of the House—I am not sure whether you would agree with that, Mr Speaker—the amendment was adopted without any opposition. So there is the genesis of the legislation which the honourable member's Bill proposes to amend. At this stage that may have only historical interest, because the topic has been debated lengthily in many parts of the world, including the study by the Wolfenden committee. That committee's report in 1957 was reflected in legislation in Britain in 1967, and it has been followed in the countries mentioned by the member for Egmont. In supporting the general principles of the Bill I am not, as some will say, encouraging homosexuality. In fact, I do not know how such an exercise could be done by simply recognising a phenomenon that exists, a phenomenon that is not in my belief open to “cure”—and I use that word in inverted commas. It is, of course, what many people describe as an unnatural offence, but I wish I knew just what was natural. We are all prone to the seven deadly sins and more, and all of us have in our own makeup some of the matters that go to make for goodness and badness. For instance, is bad temper natural or, come to think of it, is good temper natural? Is ambition natural? Is greed natural? All these qualities are possessed to a greater or lesser degree by all of us, and the quantities of each to be found in each of us go to make up our character. It is true that in all these cases some sort of control can be exercised, and the particular characteristic— greed, lust, or whatever it may be—can be concealed; but generally that results in a sublimation and the manifestation of the aberration in some other form. I think that is true of homosexuality. Some people say it may be controlled. I do not know whether it can or cannot, but I believe that if it is deliberately or expressly controlled it is likely to produce some other manifestation in the individual concerned; and a common one, of course, is alcoholism. I do not intend to become involved in the mechanics of the operation we are concerned with, and I must say that in its ultimate it has always seemed to me that it must be a singularly uncomfortable, if not painful experience. It certainly has no attraction for me, but not knowing anything of it, I cannot speak of it. It is a minority phenomenon, but a sufficient number of people are afflicted by this weakness, deviation, aberration—call it what you will—to constitute a significant number of people whose lives are adversely affected and whose associations, often with wives— because it is a common circumstance that people who are homosexually inclined have married and indeed have fathered children—and their whole families, are affected by the social bond that keeps them from mingling freely and openly with members of their own kind, or acknowledging what society has condemned, and I am sure will continue to condemn, although it is a futile exercise to condemn something for which a person is not really responsible. I welcome the legislation and I hope that others in this House will view it similarly to the way I do. But this is a matter on which everybody is free to express his own views, and I am sure some will express deep-seated personal convictions.
Mr SPEAKER—I am in some difficulty because I understand the Whips have made no arrangements for speakers on this Bill. I do not know, therefore, whether any agreement has been made as to who is to be called. I do not even know which members will speak for or against the Bill. If there are to be several speakers competing for the call, it would be helpful if I were in a position to call someone now who wishes to speak against the motion.
Hon. R. D. MULDOON (Leader of the Opposition)—Several Opposition members wish to speak, some for the Bill, some against it, and some just to speak. Since there are no arrangements it would be extremely difficult for you to try to alternate between those who are for and those who are against, so I suggest we just follow the traditional practice with calls.
Hon. W. W. Freer—I agree with the Leader of the Opposition. I think that is the only way to conduct an orderly debate.
Hon. DAVID THOMSON (Stratford)—I support the member for Egmont and the Minister of Justice in the hope that this Bill will be introduced without division and referred to the Statutes Revision Committee for study and report back to the House. There must surely be a boundary somewhere to the Crimes Act, because if every aspect of deviant human behaviour were included among those aspects which past Parliaments have decided require legal censure and should be in the Crimes Act, we would find our jails overcrowded with all those people we now have learned to love as eccentrics. This Bill, in its first aim, deals with one aspect of deviant human behaviour—deviant in that a minority is afflicted or concerned, whichever term one wishes to use. I stated publicly a couple of months ago that I am opposed to the proposition that homosexual acts between consenting adult males should be legalised; and I did not take that public stand lightly, nor without long study and thought. Controversy on this subject has been growing over a number of years, and many many eminent and respected citizens and responsible bodies have questioned the law. That being so, I agree that it is time for Parliament itself to face these questions that are posed to us, as the makers and amenders of the law, and for us to call for evidence on this Bill and make our decision on it, whatever our attitude individually to the merits of the Bill itself. The debate on the introduction is not the time to put forward long argument for or against the Bill's proposals. I content myself by observing that, while I do oppose the first aim, the legalising of homosexual acts between adult consenting males—and I make the same reservation as the Minister of Justice as to drafting—I must accept those other aims which seek to protect minors and the mentally ill. I support also the extension of the term “prostitution” to include male prostitution—a matter on which the law has clearly been deficient for some time. Finally, I commend my colleague for his sense of duty even in the face of considerable criticism, much of it raised without a clear understanding of the law or the proposals for amendment. As his neighbouring Taranaki representative in Parliament, I must say that he deserves—and I hope he will get—the respect of all thinking people in our province. I have no doubt that the House will give him credit.
Dr WALL (Porirua)—Whilst I strongly support the general aim of the Bill, certain aspects of it concern me, as I am sure they concern the community at large. I believe the House should be satisfied about these points before allowing the Bill to be introduced, and therefore I ask the member for Egmont to advise whether he will be prepared to entertain an amendment to the Bill along the lines I intend to put forward. It is fundamental to our approach to this measure that the member in charge of the Bill should be willing to accept suggested amendments; otherwise the whole process will be made very much more difficult. I believe that many people in the community are concerned about the points at issue. I am not unduly concerned about the activities of the true consenting adult, and I believe very few of us have anything other than pity for those people; we do not wish to see them being persecuted by the law in any way for what are essentially private acts. However, while many people think that way, it is not an indication of any particular moral judgment concerning such acts. I and a great number of other people are concerned about the phenomenon we have seen growing and being promoted, not by the responsible body formed to introduce reform in this matter, but by the associated way-out groups whose attitude is frankly proselytising or recruiting in this field—not in support of reform of the law but of acknowledgment that these are socially acceptable acts. Such groups not only want the activities concerned to be regarded as legal, but they want the whole cult of behaviour associated with the activities, as well as their promotion, to be accepted socially. I am therefore in very marked disagreement with the attitude expressed by the Minister of Justice, perhaps partially because of my own clinical practice. Because of the tendency of some groups to promote widespread acceptance of homosexuality by means of organisations devoted to the promotion of this type of activity and of social activities not necessarily directly involved in sexual acts, I ask the member for Egmont to advise whether he himself would be prepared to accept a thorough examination of this measure with a view to having it amended to restrict the activities of all those organisations whose membership is chosen because of a particular sexual outlook. Any organisation which makes, either overtly or covertly, that type of activity the criterion for its membership should be severely restricted by legislative means. I am sure that if the member responsible for the Bill gives some thought to the reasons behind my suggestion he will find himself in agreement with it. I am concerned about the older teenager who sees the kind of situation that I myself have seen. On a university notice board I have seen a big placard, inviting “everyone who is a homosexual, a transvestite, a lesbian”, or anyone else with a particular sexual aberration, to attend a social function that evening. There are many who are not firmly fixed in their sexual outlook but who, because of the social circumstances in which they live, are leading relatively tranquil lives and continuing to carry out their functions to the satisfaction of themselves and their families in the normal heterosexual circumstances. However, it has been found overseas that when similar legislation has been introduced containing no provision for restricting the activities of groups or associations, various bodies have been set up drawing the attention of people to the fact that they have an alternative sexual way of life open to them. After seeing constant advertisements issued by the groups, and on becoming aware of the semi-social acceptance of such activities by their mere public existence, many people are faced with difficulties they would not otherwise have. This applies particularly to those in their late teens and early twenties; and, strange as it, may seem, it also applies to some people in their thirties who have been coping quite well with ordinary married life but who, because of particular circumstances that have put them under stress, have discovered basic neurotic tendencies in this regard starting to come to the fore. The ability of such people to meve into a field that will have disastrous consequences for them and their families is greatly limited in our society. It has become less limited in recent years with the advent and public acknowledgment of the existence of bodies devoted to a different type of sexual approach, and as a result the problems of the people to whom I have referred have been increasing to my own certain knowledge. I believe this is the real danger to our community. It is a danger recognised by many people, and if the member for Egmont will agree to accept an amendment to restrict or control the type of public activities carried out by organised bodies devoted to this type of approach, I myself, and probably many others, will support the introduction of his Bill. I feel sure other members of the House also have the same reservations. In the absence of any safeguard of the type I have suggested, I am sure everyone in the community will be viewing with apprehension the possibility that we will see in New Zealand the type of organisation that has grown up overseas as a result of the introduction of this type of legislation.
Hon. L. W. GANDAR (Ruahine)—I know that many people are disturbed by the suggestion that the law on homosexuality should be reviewed, let alone changed. For many years I have been convinced that there are areas of inconsistency in those sections of the Crimes Act to which the member for Egmont seeks amendment in the Bill he now wishes to introduce. For that reason I support the introduction of the measure. Indeed, I go further and say that I support revision of the law, if not exactly along the lines of the Bill we are discussing, then in general conformity with it. I am not a homosexual, and as far as I aware I have not even met one. Nevertheless, this form of sexual aberration exists, and I have nothing but compassion for people in that way afflicted. I have a very high regard for the member for Egmont and for his fortitude in introducing the measure. Some people may miusnderstand his motives, but I know him to be an honourable man of impeccable integrity. I believe the Bill should be introduced and referred to the Statutes Revision Committee so that the law on homosexuality can be rewritten in the light of modern understanding of the conditions that lead to it. The Bill, far from condoning or lessening the crime of paedophilia, increases the penalties which can be imposed by the court. I support the extension which the member for Porirua suggests should have been incorporated in the Bill. I have several reasons for my views. The first is on humanitarian grounds. Secondly, the present law is discriminatory. If the argument that the law should not be altered, is valid, is it not equally valid that lesbianism should be brought within the law? Thirdly, it is widely known and acknowledged that the law is, and can only be, haphazardly and erratically enforced. Fourthly, for the transient homosexual, who is far more likely to seek help, assistance cannot be sought or given because of fear of the law. There is a vital distinction between assistance and treatment. An excellent publication, of which many members will have a copy, entitled Crime in New Zealand, puts the controversy in its simplest form: “It is accepted that there is a sphere of conduct in which the behaviour of the individuals must be controlled by the sanctions of the law, in their own interests and in the interests of society. It is also accepted that there is a sphere which is proper to leave to the dictates of the individual and his conscience as guided by the standards of the society in which he lives.” The extent and the boundaries of these two spheres are controversial and in my view can only be established in the quiet and objective approach that comes from a parliamentary committee, as suggested by the member for Egmont. There are two courses open. We can decline to make any change in the law, in which case we continue to dismiss the cry for compassion from a surprisingly large number of our society who need assistance; we apparently agree with the necessarily capriciously enforced law, and with an ambivalent attitude towards homosexuality and lesbianism; and finally, to use the words of Sir Hugh Linstead, a member of the House of Commons—and again I am quoting from Crime in New Zealand—“We are maintaining a law which, judged by the ordinary four standards of good law—prevention, reformation, retribution, and deterrence— fails.” The alternative course is to recognise that this is a moral and not a legal question, and to deal with it by the social and moral sanctions of public opinion. These are very cogent reasons why the Bill should be permitted to go to the Statutes Revision Committee for consideration and report to the House in due course.
Hon. Mrs T. W. M. TIRIKATENE SULLIVAN (Minister of Tourism)—The Bill proposes to change the present law relating to private homosexual acts between consenting male adults. It proposes that any such act should be no longer classified as a criminal offence. The proposed change will lessen, and perhaps even negate, the suffering of approximately 50,000 New Zealanders, according to the 1958 estimates of the Department of Justice. One of the ways this pressure has been indicated has been the high number of suicides among homosexuals. I speak as one who, during my time as a social worker counselling homosexuals, became aware of considerable suffering by otherwise law-abiding citizens. To compound this unnecessary suffering, the treatment to change the condition can have only limited success. All research to date confirms this limitation on the efficacy of treatment. The present law, as has been pointed out by the Minister of Justice, is a copy of the British law passed by the House of Commons in 1885. I suggest the reason the law still exists on our statute book in its present form is a combination of the distaste with which many people view the subject and the natural inertia of existing legislation. If the law on the statute book was that proposed in this Bill there would probably not be any considerable move by society to have it changed. Legislative inertia is certainly not a valid reason for leaving an outdated and inappropriate piece of legislation on the statute book. I repeat that official Department of Justice figures suggest that approximately 50,000 New Zealand men are negatively affected by the law in its present form. My predominant concern about this question has been the unnecessary human suffering which could be negated if the law were made consistent. I believe with all sincerity that one must carefully scrutinise the validity or otherwise of the present law. In its present form it makes private homosexual acts between consenting male adults a criminal offence. If, as the law at present stands, it is a crime for private homosexuals acts to occur between consenting male adults, who is the victim? If there is a crime, there must be a victim. If one of the parties is a minor, society validly considers that he is the victim; I agree with that. If the act is not private and other parties can be offended, then they could be considered to be the victims; I have no quarrel with that. If one of the parties does not consent, then he is the victim; I have no quarrel with that either. However, we are talking of private homosexual acts between consenting adult males, and there I see no crime and no victim. We are discussing legislation which declares that a specific act of behaviour is a criminal act. We are not talking about whether we approve or disapprove, no matter how strongly, of this specific act. We are not considering at this stage whether this specific act should be declared to be acceptable, natural, or unnatural. To support a change in the current law does not in any way whatsoever imply that we approve of homosexual behaviour, support it, like it, or condone it. But my experience in social work has been that we ignore a reality of life if we do not acknowledge that the condition exists. It is not the purpose of criminal legislation to record what society disapproves of or approves of. Criminal legislation aims to protect members of society from the criminal acts perpetrated by some of its members upon others. Where there is mutual consent between adults in respect of private homosexual acts, however, the criminal law should not make any comment. There is also a clear need to draw a distinction between adult homosexuality and child molestation. Informed medical opinion and research has suggested that the vast majority of homosexuals are not interested in children. In one American investigation it was found that of a considerable number of homosexual offenders only 1 percent admitted a preference for children. Adult homosexuality and child molestation, I repeat, arise from distinctly different behaviour patterns, and as an issue that often confuses the argument it is important that that fact should be pointed to. The inconsistency in the law as it affects male and female homosexuals has been referred to, and I merely mention it here as being illogical. I conclude by saying that approval of this proposed legislation is not to condone, not to approve, not to support, and not to endorse the condition; rather it is to recognise that it is not a criminal act when it is between male adults in private who mutually consent.
Air Commodore GILL (East Coast Bays)—I am one of those who would not wish to see the law on homosexuality changed at this time. However, I must say that I am very pleased that the Bill is being introduced. I commend the member for Egmont for seeking to introduce it, because this Parliament is a place where minorities and small groups of people should be able to have their problems discussed if they think the law is at fault. There is no doubt that we have been under considerable notice from these groups for some years past; they have let us know that they believe the law to be at fault. I do not think it is a good law; in fact, I think it is a great pity it was ever put on the statute book. It is one of those laws that I could quite comfortably hold in contempt because it legislates in an area where the law really has no business to meddle. We are not a court of morals. We do not attempt in this House to judge people's morals, but that is more or less what this law does. Since I have this contempt for that law, I suppose I should say why I would not like to see it changed at this time. I feel that if we changed the law at present we would give an air of respectability to something which I think is not respectable. Changing the law would imply that we confirm what some people have been saying—that this is a normal situation. I do not believe it is a normal situation. I do not go along with the thought that homosexual behaviour is not a matter of choice—that a homosexual is either born or made one. I do not think it is as black and white as that, and I feel that sometimes a bit of strength of character or personal discipline at the right time might have resulted in a different end product. I do not want us to do anything at all at this stage that will give an air of respectability or a blessing to homosexuality. The police do administer well a law for which I have contempt, a law by which Parliament has attempted to meddle in an area where it should not be. No Parliament in New Zealand would consciously set out to do this, and I am not accusing parliamentarians of consciously setting out to meddle. We are in this situation by accident; we have the law, and we must acknowledge that we have got it. I suspect that most members have applied themselves to this problem over the years and have studied it very fully. I am sure they have been distressed by it, and no doubt whatever decision they have arrived at in their own minds has caused them some concern. I am pleased that this House recognises the need to work for change not only in the economic field but in the social field as well. I wish I could feel that it was right to support the Bill at this stage, but I do not. I do, however, support very strongly the action of my colleague, the member for Egmont, in introducing the measure, and I hope the House will do what the Minister of justice has recommended—that is, to give this Bill a first reading without any division and to send it to the Statutes Revision Committee for the hearing of evidence. But I hope that the Minister of Justice, who is responsible for that committee, or perhaps you, Mr Speaker, will ensure that only those people who wish to give evidence in a responsible way will be permitted to give verbal evidence. The committee should receive written evidence from anybody, but when it comes to the stage of hearing oral submissions I hope the Minister, if it is in his power, or the Speaker, will be quite rigorous about who will be heard, and that he will satisfy himself that they are serious people of good intent who have proper submissions to make.
Dr BASSETT (Waitemata)—I support the introduction of this Bill, and I support all members who have spoken except perhaps the member for East Coast Bays and the member for Stratford. It is quite clear that this Bill deserves careful study and that the law needs to be changed. I should also like to say how much I respect the member for Egmont for introducing the Bill. It is not easy to do what he has done this afternoon. Unfortunately, it is absolutely certain that he will receive hate mail for having done it; he will receive criticism as well as praise. It is not easy to stand up in those circumstances, and I admire him for his courage. This House must always hold in esteem any member who has the courage to do what he believes to be right, irrespective of the consequences. This Bill tackles the subject very well. It is balanced, and the four basic aims hang together particularly well. The change is rather overdue, as the member who has introduced the Bill pointed out. The United Kingdom, Canada, and the Capital Territory of Australia have already made these changes, and while, as the member for Egmont pointed out, that is no reason in itself for changing the law, it is an important reason for discussing the question carefully. It is worth reflecting on why it has taken so long to bring about this change. New Zealanders, as one famous historian has said, are particularly conservative when it comes to matters affecting personal relations. We were very quick to accept the Victorian legislation in the first place, and we have been slow to acknowledge, as the Prime Minister of Canada said at one time, that the State has no place in the bedrooms of the nation. We have been slow to remove what has been an unfair piece of legislation that has afflicted a section of our society. I have only one question relating to this Bill: What is the situation relating to people under the age of 21? Twenty is now the age of majority, although, as the member for Egmont pointed out, in 1969 the Crimes Act changed in this regard. I think that this may well be the age where legal penalties that might continue to exist in law could be most harmful. I would suggest, therefore, that lowering the age to 20 would not be unreasonable, in line with the fact that it is accepted as the age of majority. I hope the committee will look carefully at the arguments for and against this point. I end on the note of commending the member for Egmont for what he has done this afternoon.
Hon. R. D. MULDOON (Leader of the Opposition)—I commence where the member for Waitemata ended his speech and pay a tribute to the courage of the member for Egmont in introducing this highly controversial measure. I know, because I have expressed my support for a change in this law, that such an expression immediately brings personal attacks from people who hold a different point of view. I know that the member for Egmont, since he has announced his intention of introducing this measure, has had those attacks from people—and I say this charitably—who really do not understand what this matter is all about. The honourable member is not bringing this Bill forward because he is careless of the rights of young boys or of anyone; he is bringing it before the House because he believes that, in compassion if for no other reason, the law should be changed so that the people concerned will not be placed under the constant threat of a law which, as some members have said this afternoon, really should find no place on our statute book—a threat not so much of prosecution, because prosecutions have been rare, but of blackmail and of physical violence amounting in some cases in this country to murder. That is what this Bill is all about. By strengthening the penalties for those who commit homosexual acts that should properly be crimes, the member for Egmont is underlining that very clear difference. I commend his courage, and I personally support the Bill. I will be interested to see, when the Bill comes back from the Statutes Revision Committee, what amendments, if any, have been proposed, and naturally I reserve my judgment on those. Let me say, and underline, that this is not a National Party Bill; there has been some slight misunderstanding about that. Members on this side of the House will speak and vote according to their conscience. I say clearly, and not for the first time, that as long as I am leader of this party no member will be influenced in the slightest if he wishes to introduce a private member's Bill on a matter of conscience. I regret that we can no longer say that about our political opponents. I go along part of the way with the member for Porirua. I am one of those who find the extravagant expressions of some of those who favour this measure, but also favour this kind of activity, deplorable and of no help whatsoever in making some change in the legislation— indeed, the reverse, making it much more difficult for a man such as the member for Egmont to tell the people what in fact he is doing because it is being confused with some kind of parade, and to most people an offensive parade, of things that simply divert attention from what is proposed. One of the best ways of illustrating the importance and deep study given to this proposal would simply be to read out the names of some eminent New Zealanders who support the Homosexual Law Reform Society—men such as the Rev. Ford, one of the leading ministers in the Methodist Church; the Anglican Bishop of Auckland; and Dr J. L. Robson, one of our great Secretaries of Justice. I notice, too, the name of Dr Diana Mason, president of a society which is opposed to reform in an area which many people seem to confuse with homosexual law reform when in fact it is entirely different. Many people—and I am one of them—favour reform in this area and oppose abortion law reform. This is not a group of odd people trying to get privileges or evade responsibility for odd actions. This is a very important piece of social legislation. In essence, it redefines these acts as matters of moral judgment rather than as crimes. I believe that many thousands of New Zealanders who today do not understand what is being proposed would come down heavily on the side of what is in this Bill if they were able to take the time to study the matter clearly and see what it really is. There is a great deal of fear that this change will lead to the molestation of boys. I shall read very briefly from the Wolfenden report in Great Britain, the report that over the years has become hailed as a standard study of this matter: “Our evidence, in short, indicates that the fear that the legislation on homosexual acts between adults will lead to similar acts with boys has not enough substance to justify the treatment of adult homosexual behaviour in private as a criminal offence, and suggests that it would be more likely that such a change in the law would protect boys rather than endanger them.” The logic of that is immediately obvious—would protect boys rather than endanger them; and I am of that opinion. I regret that this afternoon we are not apparently to have the privilege of hearing the views of the Prime Minister on this subject. He has made certain comments in public which I regard as obscuring the issue, and I regret he has seen fit to make them. This is not a question of changing the law so that homosexual behaviour becomes normal, as the Prime Minister appears to imply. If that is his understanding, then it is a misunderstanding, and he has a duty to this House to make a closer study of the matter. This is not a measure which will make all homosexual behaviour normal. What it will do is to make this limited area of homosexual behaviour no longer a crime—an important distinction which must be drawn. I hope that the Government—and, after all, in managing the affairs of this House it is the Government and the Prime Minister who have the final word—will not bury this Bill in the Statutes Revision Committee so that it lapses at the end of the session. I hope the Prime Minister will prevail upon the chairman of the committee to give this Bill time before the House rises so that evidence can be heard and the Bill can be reported back, with amendments, if necessary, and dealt with here in this House. We can then see whether the majority of members of Parliament, voting individually, are prepared to take this step which I personally believe is overdue.
Hon. MICHAEL CONNELLY (Minister of Police)—I do not support the Bill. Homosexuality is an unnatural habit, and changing the law to legalise the practice will not make it natural. These people require medical treatment, not a change in the law. Another facet is that if by a change in the law the House gives this practice the cloak of respectability, it will not stop at the 21-year-olds or the 16-year-olds but will affect younger children as well. Further, once it is known to young and immature people that adults treat homosexuality as an acceptable practice, this will tend to influence such young and immature people in favour of this unnatural practice when they should be discouraged. I repeat that this is a medical matter and that the Bill is not the appropriate way in which to deal with it. Hence, I do not support the Bill or its referral to a committee.
Hon. L. R. ADAMS-SCHNEIDER (Waikato)—I do not support the liberalisation of the law as proposed in the Bill. However, I do support the right of the member for Egmont to introduce his Bill, and I agree with other speakers who have clearly stated that they have a very high regard for him. I know he has made this decision only after a long and intensive study of the subject. Indeed, amongst other matters studied over the past year, our party caucus committee on social affairs, of which I have been chairman for some time, has had discussions with the Homosexual Law Reform Society, and other groups and members have studied the subject in some depth. The committee reported back to the caucus that it had no policy as such to recommend to the party, but it did recommend that members of the committee and of the caucus should remain completely free if one of them wished to introduce a Bill on this subject according to his conscience and judgment. Today the member for Egmont is seeking to introduce such a Bill on the basis of conscience and judgInent. I have studied the problem over the years, and earlier in life when I was undertaking theological and other studies. Although I now have a greater appreciation of the problem, having met people who have been advocating this change and listened to their reasons, I still must say that I have not changed my conclusions. There is much evidence, including medical evidence, to rebut an old idea that homosexuals are born that way. Some undoubtedly are, but I believe many, both male and female, become homosexuals by events, environment, and example; and herein lies the danger of this type of legislation. Passing the Bill will not help to improve community standards and family life, with which we are concerned at present. Indeed, history has demonstrated that the official recognition and encouragement of this practice has led to the eventual decay of great nations and civilisations. I appreciate the compassion shown by some distinguished churchmen, and the Leader of the Opposition has mentioned the names of a few of them. I appreciate also the conclusions of some New Zealand church courts, the names and denominations of which have been mentioned, and the church public questions committee. However, I am bound to say that the approval of church courts, church assemblies, and the public questions committee does not mean the approval of all the clergy or of all the members of those denominations. Several churches which are members of the National Council of Churches have made no pronouncement supporting the amendment to the law. However, while one can understand the expression of Christian compassion, one cannot escape the fact that the textbook of the church strongly warns against the practice of homosexuality. Therefore, while I recognise the integrity, the morality, and the sincerity of those church leaders, of members of the Homosexual Law Reform Society, and of my colleagues in this House who have spoken in support of the Bill, I emphasise that a strong body of church and public opinion will be opposed to this proposition; and I hope that those people who have written to me and to other members expressing their opposition will see that the organisations they represent take the trouble to make their position and their views clear to the committee to which I hope the Bill will be referred. I think that those who take this view, which I also take, have that responsibility. While I have come, as I have said, to a much greater understanding of the problem, I cannot give my support to a measure which I believe would give recognition to a practice that is contrary to the public interest.
Mr CHRISTIE (Napier)—I oppose the introduction of the Bill. In my opinion the purposes of the Bill, as stated in the explanatory note, are contradictory. The note states that the basic aims of the Bill are to make homosexual acts committed in private between consenting males 21 years or over no longer criminal offences, and to give greater protection to male children under 16 years from being sexually molested by males 21 or over. How on earth can one say it should be legal for two consenting homosexuals to carry out the practice in private, and at the same time say the purpose is to give greater protection to male children? Homosexuality is a disease of the mind and body and should be recognised as such. It is an unnatural act and should not be given the creditability which this Bill seeks to give. Although denied by those who support the Bill, the evidence shows that those who practice this perversion have the sort of mentality that could incline them to passing on their perverted and disgusting practices on to young boys. The member for Egmont has recognised that fact in clause 2 which states: “The principal Act is hereby amended by omitting from subsection (1) of section 140 the word “ten”, and substituting the word “fourteen”. If two homosexuals wish to carry out their disgusting act in private there is nothing whatsoever to stop them at present.
Hon. L. W. Gandar—It is against the law.
Mr CHRISTIE—Yes, I know the law says they shall not do it, but how can the law get to them if they go to the home of one of them, close the front door, go to the bedroom, and carry out the act? They will be breaking the law morally, but they will not be fined, and to give approval to this by saying it is not a crime is not in my book. There are those who say that because this is lawful in the United Kingdom and other countries it should become the law in New Zealand. To those who think that, I say let us have laws in New Zealand for New Zealanders. The member for Egmont also said it was timely for New Zealand that this Bill should be brought in. I do not go along with that at all. New Zealand has a very low incidence of homosexuality. A figure has been quoted willy-nilly; I do not know where it came from, but it has been given as 50,000.
Hon. L. W. GANDAR–Where did you get your own figure?
Mr CHRISTIE—I did not get it anywhere. I would like to know where people got that figure of 50,000 from. Before becoming a member of this House I saw at first hand some of the practices—or antics, they could be called—of homosexuals on overseas ships; and some of the practices and some of the garb and some of the things they got up to were disgusting to see, without going into the actual act of homosexuality. Members of a group in New Zealand which calls itself the “Gay Lib” movement are going through the forms of a wedding ceremony, a wedding night, and all that sort of thing, and one wonders just where, as New Zealanders who pride ourselves on our morals, we are going if the law is changed for these people. Everyone has talked about the law this afternoon, but I think we should take some note of what those who administer the law have to say about homosexuality. I quote the comments of a detective superintendent from Christchurch who was upheld in his statement by the Commissioner of Police of the time. He said this: “Make homosexuality legal, and the male prostitute would be in his element, open and unashamed—a nation of queers. No man of character, no parent, would wish for the pollution of youth, because if homosexuality were allowed or made legal, condoned or encouraged, the danger would be as disastrous as a hydrogen bomb. To suggest that the perversions would remain exclusive to consenting males in private is utter nonsense, so what must we expect if he obtains the licence to practise his wares openly?” That statement was made by a man who sees what is going on among these perverts. As far as I am concerned, it is not a natural act. It is not natural for two men to perform sexual acts with each other. Animals do not do that, and why should it be condoned in humans? As I said earlier, people can do these acts in private if they want to, but to make homosexuality legal would give it greater credibility. This House has world problems and national problems, such as housing young people, to deal with, and members should be spending their time solving those problems instead of solving problems which, in my opinion, should be solved medically.
Hon. G. F. GAIR (North Shore)—I wish to record my support for the introduction of this measure, and I think it is most proper that it should be referred to the Statutes Revision Committee. First, I want to place on record my commendation of the work and the courage of my colleague the member for Egmont in producing and bringing forward this Bill. It might seem rather late in the debate to say that it is a courageous measure, because a number of members from both sides of the House have given the Bill commendation and support. I believe that had the member for Egmont not decided some weeks ago that as a matter of conscience he should introduce this measure, we might have waited months—in fact, years, before a proposal for change was brought to our attention. I want to refer to the contribution made this afternoon by the Minister of Justice, and to thank him for the way in which he put his own position on this issue so clearly on the line, and so early in the debate. I think he gave a lead to other members by his action. The member for Egmont consulted me some weeks ago about his proposal to introduce this Bill, and I gave him my assurance that if it followed the concept of the Wolfenden report I would support him, because I felt it was time that Parliament reviewed this problem, which is social, moral, and medical just as much as it is legal. The Minister of Justice referred to the Victorian English origin of our present law. In association with the member for Egmont and some of my other colleagues I have had the opportunity in recent weeks of meeting a number of members of the Homosexual Law Reform Society. Among them were church leaders, educationists, social workers, lawyers, psychiatrists, medical people, and others of eminence in the community. It was no group of unusual or peculiar New Zealanders, but a group of very responsible people who were anxious that Parliament should co-operate in reviewing a law which they felt was no longer relevant for these times. I know my colleague has investigated this matter at great length, and he has also studied the developments that have taken place in other jurisdictions. I hope there will be an opportunity later, in the second reading debate, to refer to that in greater detail. It is not often that a measure on such a controversial subject is introduced by a private member. The controversy obviously divides members on both sides of the House, and I suppose we are a fair representation of opinions outside the House. Some are strongly in favour of change and some are strongly against it, but I think that a large and perhaps an overwhelming majority are either unaware of or indifferent to the problem and the victims of the problem, and also to the stand the law takes on this matter. Some years ago a petition presented to Parliament received a recommendation of no change from the Petitions Committee, but the personnel of this House and the character of society have changed considerably since that petition came before Parliament. I believe that in the interim Parliament has, perhaps, also allowed itself to become ill informed and somewhat indifferent. The member for Egmont is giving us the opportunity to review the law as it now stands, and to amend it, if necessary, in the , light of the evidence presented to the select committee. In the explanatory note to the Bill members will note that there are four basic aims, and with the second, third, and fourth of these there will be no dispute. The second is to give greater protection to male children under 16 years from being sexually molested by males of 21 or over, and everybody will agree with that. The third is to protect mentally ill persons of all ages, and we would all be in agreement on that. The fourth is to make homosexual and heterosexual acts of prostitution, procuring, importuning, and living on the earnings of prostitution equally unlawful. Again, I believe there would be general agreement. It is only with respect to the first aim, which is to make homosexual acts committed in private between consenting males of 21 and over no longer criminal offences, that the House and the country may be divided. There are two important words in this; one is “consenting” and the other “private”. Perhaps the most eloquent answer to this question is contained in four sentences in what has become popularly known as the Wolfenden report—the report of the Committee on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution presented to the United Kingdom Parliament in September 1957 by the Secretary of State for the Home Department. The committee was chaired by Sir John Wolfenden. After debating the arguments in favour of the status quo and the counterarguments for change, these observations were made: “There remains one additional counter-argument which we believe to be decisive, namely, the importance which society and the law ought to give to individual freedom of choice and action in matters of private morality. Unless a deliberate attempt is to be made by society, acting through the agency of the law, to equate the sphere of crime with that of sin, there must remain a realm of private morality and immorality which is, in brief and crude terms, not the law's business. To say this is not to condone or encourage private immorality. On the contrary, to emphasise the personal and private nature of moral or immoral conduct is to emphasise the personal and private responsibility of the individual for his own actions, and that is a responsibility which a mature agent can properly be expected to carry for himself without the threat of punishment from the law.”
Mr O’FLYNN (Kapiti)—I, like other members who have spoken, hope that this Bill will be introduced without a division. In case it is not, and perhaps in any case, I shall briefly make my attitude clear. First of all, at least one member has said that he welcomes the measure. I am afraid I cannot say that, but I would be prepared to support it subject to receiving an assurance from the member for Egmont about the matter that was originally raised and dealt with at some length by the member for Porirua. I do not propose to deal with it at any length, but I want to point out that whereas on the one hand the conduct and the submissions of the Homosexual Law Reform Society have been moderate throughout its campaign, there are other groups supporting this proposed reform who adopt a much more aggressive attitude towards it and towards the conduct it seeks to legalise. I have not the slightest doubt that if this legislation were to be passed such groups would seek to exploit what is intended to be quite a limited reform. I would be prepared to support limited reform provided stringent steps were taken to prevent exploitation. There is no real need to be specific; most people will know the kind of propaganda and the sort of groups and activity that I am speaking about. I know it will not be easy to frame the provisions that are required, but I should like to hear from the member for Egmont that he would be prepared to support properly framed provisions. There are two other points that I wish to refer to briefly. With all due respect to the member for East Coast Bays, I cannot agree with his somewhat dangerous suggestion that the committee should restrict the people it is prepared to hear. In my view that is a dangerous suggestion. What is more, it may well be that the case that the member for Porirua and I seek to make would be assisted by the extravagant behaviour of some of the people who would turn up, and the extreme sort of submissions that I anticipate they would make. I find myself, for once, in entire agreement with the Leader of the Opposition: this proposed reform and any suggestion of reforming the law on abortion are quite separate matters, and the supposed connection only reinforces the argument put forward by the member for Porirua and myself. Those who think there is any connection do so because they have quite a wrong view of the basis for this proposed reform, and that is another argument for the limitation that I will suggest. I am pleased to see that in the measure the age of consent is given as 21. I would urge the member for Egmont to consider whether he is not prepared to adhere to that, and, perhaps to insert a provision in the clause which would prevent the automatic lowering of that age if there should be general legislation introduced to lower the age of majority. Subject to those two assurances, and without very much enthusiasm—because this is not a reform for which I feel any crusading zeal—I would be prepared, on mature thought, to support the Bill as a just and necessary reform in an imperfect world.
Mr MAYSON (Hastings)—I must confess at the outset that I am somewhat embarrassed, not by the introduction of this Bill, but by the fact that a person who by his own acknowledgment represents a conservative party, and perhaps a slightly more than usual conservative electorate, should have the courage and integrity to bring this measure forward. I freely concede, though it may sound contrived, that he is the better person for doing so, and I respect his courage. I am also encouraged by the fact that most of the debate has been moderate. On contentious issues such as this it is very easy to grab for the extravagant and emotional term, to pigeonhole people with all-embracing expressions, and then to dismiss the problem as though it did not exist. We find ourselves in strange company on an issue such as this, which is important and must be faced; it will not disappear if we do not face it. As the Minister of Justice has said, the law on this subject was introduced frivolously into British legislation in April 1885 and was then passed on into New Zealand legislation. It appears that female homosexual acts were not included because Queen Victoria, for her own reasons, could not bring herself to believe that female homosexuality existed. This, of course, is one of the most glaring discrepancies in the legislation as it stands today. If one could support the argument that the status quo should be maintained, one would have difficulty in supporting the fact that it is not unlawful for females to indulge in homosexual activity. Although I support the main tenor and concept of the Bill, I give neither implicit nor explicit encouragement to the three other activities that have been listed. I am sure that every member in this House, and by far the greater proportion of the community, would find child molestation quite repugnant. Examination of the Bill will show that the member for Egmont has clearly established the difference between the two things. Child molestation should in no way be confused with what we are discussing, which is making lawful homosexual activities between consenting adults over the age of 21 years. We do not, in supporting the Bill, make a moral judgment on homosexuality. It exists, and our attitude to it does not make it moral or immoral, normal or abnormal, natural or unnatural. We simply recognise, as the Minister of Justice has said, that the phenomenon of homosexuality exists. No matter what the law states, homosexuality simply is a fact. But the law does decide whether those who are homosexuals are to be the object of social justice or injustice. If it is difficult, as the experts say it is, to ascertain the specific cause of homosexuality, and if 4 or 5 percent of the community are homosexual, then who are we to say that in the developing of young lives some people are not evolving into that condition? Can we refuse to recognise that such a condition exists? Are we to wind back the clock in the hope of tracing the origin of homosexuality and thus eliminating its cause? Are we to continue to do as some, albeit a minority, would have us do: incarcerate or penalise or, perhaps even worse, ostracise, those who are afflicted with this condition? I hope most fervently that everybody—even those who are sincerely opposed to this measure—will look carefully at the activities of the Homosexual Law Reform Society. I hope that they will look at its definition of a homosexual, and use what influence they have to cool the heated emotions of those who may be inclined, through letters and other means, to communicate their opposition to this measure. I myself know something of this, and I am sure the member for Egmont, if he has not already experienced it, will learn what can be done through anonymous bitter and hateful letters. I am sure that members will share with him the difficulties he will go through, and I hope that the community as a whole, although opinions may differ, will be restrained and responsible in its attitude to this measure, and will respect the integrity of the member who has seen fit to introduce this Bill, which I welcome and entirely support.
Mrs BATCHELOR (Avon)—I too support the Bill which the member for Egmont is seeking to introduce, and I hope it will go before a committee of the House so that it can be more fully debated. I hope expert evidence will be submitted to the committee to show whether or not homosexuality is in fact a medical problem. If it is not, and there can be no medical cure, then society as a whole must stop telling itself that an easy answer to the question of homosexuality by either sex is that it can be coped with by medicine. It has been suggested by some that if the law were changed to allow homosexual acts to be legal between consenting adults there would be more homosexuals, but that has not been proved in the United Kingdom, where the law was changed in 1967. So far as we can ascertain there has been no evidence of any increase in homosexuality since then. If there is anything in that argument, then perhaps we should be considering the fact that there is no legal problem for women in that area, and yet there is no great number of homosexual problems between women. I believe there is a need for reform, because I am convinced that a humane society would not subject even a small percentage of the population to legal sanctions because their sexual orientation differs from the accepted norm. It seems to me that people should have the right to privacy in their own homes, and that they alone can decide whether the personal relationships between them are right or wrong. I do not believe that a country's criminal law should interfere in the private sexual behaviour of consenting adults, and liberalisation of the law is necessary if the present legal discrimination between male homosexuals and female homosexuals is to be obviated. The law must apply equally to both sexes. The introduction of this Bill and the debate on the issue are not nearly enough. If homosexuals are to be helped to cope with their problems they should be able to live their emotional lives without fear of legal action being taken against them. I believe there is a strong possibility that a change in the present law will reduce human suffering, and that in itself is a sufficient reason for welcoming this Bill and allowing it to go to a committee. The Bill itself, however, confuses the issue in one way. It brings into the argument on homosexuality other areas that have nothing to do with homosexuality. Interference with a child, whether a girl or a boy, is an act of perversion and not of homosexuality, and perhaps the member bringing in the Bill would have been wiser to have kept strictly to the need to liberalise the law as it affects male homosexuals. I believe that is the area to which emphasis should have been given. However, as I have said, I support the Bill. I realise very well that the member will receive many letters and telephone calls of a derogatory nature, but I assure him that there is another side to the coin: he will also get many letters and telephone calls from people who appreciate what he is trying to do for them, and that will help to make him feel that his effort was worth while.
Mr C. R. MARSHALL (Wanganui)— The general intent of this Bill has my very warm support, and I join with those who have offered sincere congratulations to the member for Egmont for his courage in bringing this Bill before the House. The member deserves a great deal of credit for his action, and he will know by now from this debate that many members on this side of the House are very pleased that he has brought the measure forward. My only regret is that such a Bill is not being introduced by a member on this side of the House. I am pleased to see how far we have moved since the days of the unsuccessful 1968 petition, and I am very optimistic that this measure will, after it has been referred to the appropriate committee, correct a long-standing injustice in the law. I do not think this issue is as politically sensitive as some people seem to believe. I hope that no significant number of votes will be lost by any member who supports the Bill, and I doubt that they will be. I think that the fears felt by some people about their political vulnerability if they support this measure are to a large degree unfounded, although we shall know for certain at the end of next year. I should also like to pay a tribute to the Homosexual Law Reform Society for its 7 years of very reasonable and reasoned campaigning to remove this outdated and discriminatory law. The society has suggested in papers which I think most members have seen, that the four main reasons for this reform are: (1) The change will substantially reduce human suffering; (2) the present law is illogical in distinguishing between male homosexual acts which are crimes, and female lesbian and other sexual acts which are not; (3) enforcement of the present law is necessarily haphazard; and (4) the punishment of male homosexuals is on balance a greater evil than the evil it is designed to prevent. Reference has been made by a couple of speakers to the widespread support this measure has in the community, and I remind members that, in chronological order, the following churches have passed resolutions at their conferences and assemblies urging that this measure should be passed: the Methodist Church as long ago as 1960, the Associated Churches of Christ, some dioceses of the Anglican Church, the Presbyterian Church, the Society of Friends, and, in April of this year, the executive committee of the National Council of Churches. I know that the member for Waikato has indicated that a number of people in the churches and some clergymen are not happy about this measure. I can only speak for those I know, and I know that most of the people with whom I work, and most clergymen, at least in the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches, are entirely behind this measure and have been for some time. I know there are some people who say—and some of us received a small item in the mail this week along this line—that this measure is not consistent with the churches' teaching on morality. The kindest thing I can say is that people who argue from that point of view seem to have a narrow and mistaken idea of the morality of the Old Testament, and no idea at all of the moral approach taught in the Gospels. Some people have the mistaken idea that by passing this measure we would be making certain behaviour acceptable and desirable. To legalise homosexual behaviour between adult males in private does not mean that we regard these acts as necessarily desirable or moral. Widespread support has come from other parts of the community—the Jay. cees at national level, some branches of the National Council of Women, the Council for Civil Liberties, the Howard League for Penal Reform, the New Zealand University Students Association, both the major political parties at their national conferences, and the Values Party in its election manifesto. Reference has also been made to the fact that in recent years many countries which had such discriminatory laws have removed them: England and Wales in 1967, Canada in 1970, South Australia in 1972, Australian Capital Territory last year, and several American States—there have usually been one or two each year over the past few years. Most Western European countries have had no legal prohibition on homosexual acts by adults in private for several generations. Finally, I should like to say again that I am very pleased that the member has brought this Bill forward, and I admire him for doing it. I should like to ask him a question before we conclude this debate. Some of us saw the draft of a Bill from the Homosexual Law Reform Society. This Bill differs from that one in a number of ways, and I wonder if the member would indicate the nature of the differences and why those differences have been made in his Bill.
Hon. H. L. J. MAY (Minister of Local Government)—Other members have given what I firmly believe to be their honest opinions on this matter, but the question I have to resolve in my own mind is one of conscience. It is well known that any law introduced by any Government of any nation must have some regard to what is commonly known as the moral law. For that reason alone I have come to the conclusion that I cannot support this Bill. I have arrived at my own conclusions not just suddenly, but after a considerable amount of investigation over the years. I have come back to this question all the time: do we make something that is immoral, and has always been maintained to be morally wrong, suddenly legally right? By doing that, do we reduce the practice of what is commonly regarded as a perversion? Everyone must make up his own mind about this. This is not the time to be moralising, but . I want to elaborate on a point touched on by the member for Porirua. If this problem could be seen in complete isolation from the other forms of permissiveness which seem to be becoming part and parcel of everyday life, it would not be so bad; but when we look at it in relation to the overall permissiveness in our society we have to be very careful. These facts are not new. Unfortunately, unlike a lot of people who are in favour of this measure, I did not have a university education, but if one reads the history of the world one cannot help noting that, throughout the ages, once a country drops its moral standards it ceases to exist as a nation. I am not using that as the excuse for my stand, but it is one of my reasons. I sincerely believe that you cannot exist as a nation if you drop your moral standards.
Mr T. J. YOUNG (Hutt)—If the principle of this Bill were passed into law I do not think there would necessarily be a lowering of moral standards. However, I do not think there is any need for the House to deal with this amendment to the Crimes Act in isolation from other matters that need amendment in our criminal code. I have always resisted dealing with the homosexual provisions of the Act in isolation from its other provisions; indeed, I see defects in the Bill because it does not take into consideration other very important parts of the criminal code and parts of the civil code, especially the matrimonial causes legislation, and particularly the definition of adultery in the Matrimonial Causes Act. I support the attitude adopted by the member for East Coast Bays—I do not see any need for haste in dealing with this Bill; the matter is certainly not urgent. I know from my own researches that no person practising homosexual acts in private is in any way being treated unjustly by the law at present. I therefore disagree with the view of the Leader of the Opposition that we should give this Bill any priority, and necessarily deal with it this session. I advise the House that, if the Bill is to be sent to the Statutes Revision Committee, of which I am chairman, I would prefer it to be dealt with as a matter for recess study. The committee has a mass of other Bills before it, and some of them are much more important than this isolated amendment to the Crimes Act and should be dealt with before it. I do not believe the member for Egmont has given sufficient consideration to some of the points raised by his measure. For example, the question of incest arises. Sexual intercourse between brother and sister is regarded as a crime. What about intercourse between brother and brother, or between father and son? The Bill raises many wider implications which have not been considered in the drafting of the measure. In the past I have been opposed to the introduction of a Bill until all its aspects have been considered properly and thoroughly. I suggest to the member for Egmont that his measure has not been
Crimes Amendment Bill Crimes Amendment Bill 3175 24 JULY considered fully, and that it needs very much deeper study before it proceeds further. I wonder whether the member for Egmont included clause 2, increasing the penalty for an act of indecency between man and boy, as a sort of palliative to justify liberalising other parts of the law? Section 140 of the Crimes Act provides that an indecent act between males when one of the parties is below 16 years of age is subject to a penalty of imprisonment for 10 years, and the member for Egmont proposes to increase this penalty to 14 years. Section 133 of the Crimes Act, which relates to an act of indecency with a girl under 12 years of age—not 16 years of age as provided in this measure— sets a maximum penalty of only 10 years' imprisonment. Those examples illustrate some of the anomalies that would be created by the Bill, and makes it clear that it has not been properly considered. I consider it very unfortunate that the measure has been brought to the House without deep and proper consideration. As I have said, I would have been very much against the Government introducing a similar measure. I should like to correct the statement made in the House today by the member for Egmont, the mover of the Bill, and by my colleague the member for Wanganui, that the Associated Churches of Christ is among the churches that have supported the proposed reform. I am a member of the Associated Churches of Christ, and also a member of the public questions committee of that church. Certainly the public questions committee has given this matter study and expressed some support for the thought that people who act in this way in private should not be subjected to the criminal code. However, the conference of the Associated Churches of Christ did not endorse that opinion in any way at all, and the record should be put straight in that respect. I believe it would be better to delay any further consideration of the Bill until its effects on other legislation have been fully explored. It would be wrong to deal with this problem in isolation, and I should not like to see any amending law introduced in this way.
Hon. W. W. FREER (Minister of Trade and Industry)—I do not intend to delay the introduction of the Bill. However, as Acting Leader of the House I should like to make one or two points. The Leader of the Opposition asked whether it was the intention of the Government to place the Bill well down on the Order Paper, or to leave it well down on the agenda of the Statutes Revision Committee. I assure both the honourable member and the House that, if the member for Egmont so desires, the Government will allow the Bill to be considered by a select committee. It may be in the interests of the member and of the subject at issue that the Bill should be considered by a special committee rather than by the Statutes Revision Committee, which is already heavily overloaded. In that way, as was suggested by the Leader of the Opposition, the Bill could be examined thoroughly and the evidence heard on it. When the committee reported back to the House, members could have a free vote on the issue. If the member for Egmont so wishes, we will arrange for the Bill to be sent to a special select committee, as was done in the case of a Bill on drugs that was introduced by the member for East Coast Bays.
Mr V. S. YOUNG (Egmont)—I should like to comment first on the offer of the Acting Leader of the House to send the Bill to a special select committee. I appreciate his intentions and advise that his offer would satisfy my requirements. In my earlier speech I emphasised the fact that we were discussing a controversial subject. This has been made clear during the debate, and I express my thanks to members on both sides for the dispassionate way in which they have communicated their views. A number of questions were directed to me during the course of the debate. The member for Porirua and the member for Kapiti asked whether I would favour the consideration of legislation that would somehow restrict the activities of people who use exhibitionism as a means of bringing their different sexuality to the attention of the public. I am perfectly willing to accept that proposition. The member for Kapiti sees difficulty in achieving the objectives he suggests, but I concur fully with the concern expressed by him and by the member for Porirua. The member for Wanganui asked me in what way my Bill differed from that prepared by the Homosexual Law Reform Society. Of course, I know that the society prepared a Bill that was considered by some Government members as well as by some members of the Opposition. Dr Matheson and Mr Robin Stewart of the Opposition's research section were very helpful to me in preparing my Bill, and the three of us spent some considerable time in attempting to adapt the Bill brought forward by the Homosexual Law Reform Society to meet my requirements. We sat long into the night making amendments, but finally found that, in spite of many changes on which we could agree, the proposal in the original Bill was totally unsatisfactory. In the Homosexual Law Reform Society's measure instead of stating an age of consent of 21 or over, the term “adult male” was proposed. I feel quite strongly that the age of 21 years should be spelt out in any Bill. I know there is some debate on whether the age of consent should be 20 years or 21 years, but I feel it should be 21 years, and I am backed in my judgment by the legislation passed in other countries. The United Kingdom legislation has been in existence since 1967 and remains unaltered. I am a parent of young children, and along with all members of the House I am concerned for the moral welfare of the nation. In considering this measure we must separate in our minds what is moral and what is legal, and the House has done so very effectively today. I thank all members, regardless of their views, for taking part in the debate. Motion agreed to. Bill introduced and read a first time. Hon.
W. W. FREER (Acting Leader of the House)—I move, That this Bill be referred to a special select committee to be appointed, and that the hearings of the committee be open to accredited representatives of the news media. Motion agreed to.