2 May 1975, New Zealand Parliament
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Dr BASSETT (Waitemata)—I am directed by the Crimes Amendment Bill Committee to present the report of the committee on the Crimes Amendment Bill. The committee recommends that the Bill be allowed to proceed as amended. I move, That the report do lie upon the table. The Crimes Amendment Bill was introduced by the member for Egmont in July 1974. The Bill, which sought to make homosexual acts legal between consenting adult males in private, had a number of other clauses. These related to the crimes of keeping a place of resort for homosexual acts, living off the earnings of prostitution, and several other matters. It was agreed that the subject-matter of the Bill should be treated as one of individual conscience for members of Parliament, and accordingly a special committee was set up to invite submissions on the subject. This committee spent many hours taking submissions and deliberating. We received about 150 submissions, most of them written, and the committee met on 12 occasions to consider the submissions. After reading them the committee decided to limit the number of witnesses it had invited to attend in person to a broad cross section of those who had placed evidence before us. We had evidence from the New Zealand Psychological Society, the New Zealand Sociological Association, and the Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists. We had evidence from the New Zealand Association of Social Workers, the New Zealand Police Association, the New Zealand Student Christian Movement, the NZUSA, and also people actively engaged in the counselling of homosexuals. The committee had lengthy discussions with, and supplementary submissions from, representatives of Church groups, including most of the major Churches in New Zealand, and we also had much of one session devoted to submissions from the Society for the Promotion of Community Standards. Last, but by no means least, we had submissions from the Homosexual Law Reform Society, and from Gay Liberation Movement groups throughout the country. I think it can safely be said that every viewpoint on the subject of homosexuality was canvassed, and discussions, many of them very informative to members of the committee, were lengthy and useful. When it came to deliberation, the committee considered several alternative approaches to the Bill. One was that we restructure that part of the Crimes Act dealing with sexual offences so as to place homosexual and heterosexual activities on a similar footing when defining what was a crime and what the penalties attaching to those crimes should be. In the event, however, the committee deemed its terms of reference to be rather narrower than this, and it decided that it would deal only with the subject-matter of the Bill and with the best way of wording in law the sentiments expressed in the original Bill. After it had been decided that a majority of the committee agreed with the basic intention of the Bill, a restructuring of the Bill was undertaken with the assistance of certain people, principally Miss Patricia Webb, Mrs Lowe, and Mr Pike of the Department of Justice. The Bill now before us is the result of that restructuring. The first thing that will be noted is that not many of the words in the original Bill are included in precisely the same form in the Bill that is reported back. For instance, instead of leaving in the old clause 3, which was the main part of the original Bill, it was decided to restructure sections 141 and 142 of the Crimes Act so as to list those crimes that remained crimes, carefully deleting what had previously been in the Crimes Act—namely, that offences by consulting adult males over the age of 21 were offences. The committee agreed by a majority, with votes in favour coming from both sides of the House, that the Crimes Act should now make it legally permissible for homosexual acts to take place in private between consenting adult males over the age of 20. The old clause 4 has been deleted, and a new clause, amending section 147 of the Crimes Act, has been included relating to brothelkeeping. It will now be an offence for anyone to keep a brothel where prostitution between opposite sexes or among the same sex takes place. Having made this change to section 147 of the Act, the old section 146 of the Crimes Act becomes unnecessary, and it is proposed that it be repealed. Clauses 5 and 6 of the Bill introduced by the member for Egmont have been replaced by a new provision relating to procuring for reward, which remains an offence. Clause 7 of the original Bill stands part. A new clause has been introduced as a result of submissions from the Police Department and the Ministry of Defence, which will enable those forces to continue to take disciplinary action against homosexuality within the ranks, even though these acts may not be illegal in civil law. I should add that the committee was at few stages unanimous. The member for Porirua submitted a number of additional points that he wanted included in the Bill but which the majority of the committee rejected. The member for Stratford firmly opposed all moves to liberalise the present laws relating to homosexuality. At this point may I say that I personally was one of those who believed that the law needed to be changed at the point when the member for Egmont originally introduced his Bill. The evidence the committee received from the major Churches, with the exception of the Catholic Church—and the submissions from that Church were divided— plus the submissions we received from those who had been most directly involved from a counselling and psychological point of view with the problem of homosexuality, served only further to convince me that changes to the law along the lines proposed in this Bill were necessary. It seems to be essential that the House should debate the issues raised in the many submissions the committee received, and that members of Parliament be given the same full opportunity to debate this Bill as they had for discussion of the question of abortion. While some people may feel so strongly against the idea of liberalising the law as it relates to homosexuality that they wish not even to allow the committee to report back to the House, I think all members should ponder on what the public would feel about this institution of Parliament were we to deny the member for Egmont a second reading of his Bill and were we, summarily and without scrutiny of the thousands of pages of submissions made to the committee, to dismiss the many viewpoints contained therein. I ask that all members allow this report to be received and the matter to be debated at some later stage, when all members will be freely able to express their opinions and to vote accordingly. I am one who believes that the member for Egmont did this House a signal service when he introduced for discussion a matter which is being publicly debated. He has suffered as a consequence, and probably the only other member who would know what he has suffered in recent times would be the member for Porirua. We owe the member for Egmont the courtesy of a full debate on his Bill. In my opinion this Bill is long overdue. The weight of evidence the committee received reveals that there is a small minority of the community for whom homosexual acts are the only possible kind of sexual activity in which they find themselves able to engage. Psychiatrists and psychologists gave the committee reports that attempts to change the sexual inclinations of mature adults had been very unsuccessful. Therefore, to refuse to allow people who find themselves unable to engage in heterosexual acts to engage in acts they regard as normal would be to adopt a dog-in-the-manger attitude towards them, and I personally find that quite unacceptable. If one accepts, as I do, the stricture given by the Prime Minister of Canada, Mr Trudeau, that the State has no business to be prying into the bedrooms of the nation, then one can adopt no other stance than that reform of the law is essential. In closing, I wish to pay my sincere thanks to the members of the committee, and particularly to the member for Egmont, who worked very hard to achieve a satisfactory result to the deliberations on his Bill. Also, on behalf of the committee, I offer sincere thanks to Mr Bonifant and Mr Henry, the two committee secretaries on whom much work fell as a result of the committee's activities.
Mr V. S. YOUNG (Egmont)—I want to deal with the main provisions in the Bill. I wish to re-emphasise though, that the provisions relating to brothelkeeping, prostitution, and procuring as they were in the original Bill, remain in the amended Bill strengthened. First may I pay a tribute to the chairman of the committee, the member for Waitemata, and the members of the committee who considered the Crimes Amendment Bill, particularly those who took part in the early stages before I was able to join the committee. The Bill as reported back to the House may appear to some to be almost rewritten. However, it contains in a different form the intent of the measure I introduced to the House almost 12 months ago. The major provision in the 1974 Bill remains intact—that is, that homosexual acts between consenting male adults in private be no longer criminal offences. The committee has amended the definition of an adult male for these purposes in the Bill from 21 years to 20 years. There remain, as there were in the original Bill, safeguards for the mentally ill against homosexual acts. Furthermore, the committee has included amendments sought by the Ministry of Defence and the Police Department which exclude, in certain circumstances, the major provision of the Bill—the removal of the criminal conviction from the Defence and Police establishments in certain cases. A similar if not identical provision was made in the 1968 legislation passed in the United Kingdom. My Bill has nothing to do with morality or with social values, but it has a great deal to do with persuading the community to adopt a better understanding of the plight of the homosexual in our community. The select committee was constantly questioned about the link between morality and the law. This Bill is to do with the law, and the laws of the country are for the protection of the community. They are to punish the offender and to deter him or others from committing crimes. Criminal laws, and their penalties also, have an implicit responsibility to rehabilitate the offender. In the case of the law against homosexual acts between consenting adult males in private, the law fails miserably. Where is protection provided? If there is consent between adults, who is protected? Only these acts would be legal under the amended measure, and this only applies where there is common consent. The punishment of imprisonment provided in the present Crimes Act, though it may be rarely applied, is, to say the least, illogical. The criminal law is to deter. To deter people from what? If the law is to deter, can it deter homosexuals from being the way they are? Every piece of responsible evidence given to the committee suggested either that homosexuals were born that way or that their condition was a result of their early environment. Punishment will hardly correct them. However, there is a desperate need for counselling. Rehabilitation is important, and again the present law fails. I believe the present criminal law prevents many homosexuals—who are not, as some will have us believe, the gay people in our community, but who are often sad, lonely, and distraught—from seeking counselling that would enable them to live more easily with their condition. The law, in those circumstances, fails. Almost all the submissions made to the committee by individuals and organisations who have to face the problems of homosexuals gave evidence in support of a change in the law. However, let me not try to persuade the House that the evidence given to the committee was one-sided; it was not. There was a great volume of evidence against the proposed amendments. But I make the point that those organisations and individuals who come face to face with the problems of the homosexual, almost without exception, gave evidence in support of a change in the law. These included the New Zealand Social Workers Association; the Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists; probation officers, lawyers, clergymen, and youth counsellors; the New Zealand Homosexual Law Reform Society; the New Zealand Police Association Officers Guild; the New Zealand Student Christian Movement; the Quaker movement; the New Zealand Sociological Association; the New Zealand Psychological Association; Father Donnelly, who is the senior lecturer in community health at the Auckland Medical School; and the New Zealand Probation Officers Association. Other evidence was given against the proposals, and members who were on the committee will be able to report to the House details of the evidence given against the proposals in my Bill. The Methodist Church supports a change in the law, and submissions were made on behalf of the Presbyterian Church in favour of a change. The public questions committee of the Anglican Church of the Province of New Zealand favoured a change in the law. Not every Church adopts this position. The Roman Catholic Church, although there were different points of view from within that Church, was officially against a change in the law. It was not on its own; several other Churches were also opposed. I questioned them on their submissions. I told them that the question I would ask was in no way a question to put them on a spot, but was a fair and most important one. I asked them: “If the law I am trying to have removed was not already on the statute book, would your Church be campaigning to have it placed there?” It is a question every member who does not support this Bill must ask himself. The only Church which said that it would seek the writing of such a law as it is in sections 140, 141, and 142 of the Crimes Act was an evangelical section of the Anglican Church. However, the Vicar-General representing the Roman Catholic Church stated subsequently that he thought the law should be the same for female homosexuals as it was for male homosexuals. Last year, at a meeting in Auckland, a woman of 60 years of age approached me. She had tears in her eyes and she said to me, “Thank you, Mr Young, for what you are doing for my son. He is a homosexual, but he does not know that I know this. His sister told me. But, Mr Young, he is not a criminal because he is living with another man.” This woman lived in constant fear that her son would be dragged before the court. This Bill, amended as it is, is a measure with humanitarian objectives. We are told by the Police Department that it is most difficult to obtain convictions for homosexual acts that are conducted in private, and with consent, by adult males. In fact, in many cases a blind eye is turned. This Bill will not make homosexual acts between consenting adult males socially acceptable. What it will do is bring more humanity and understanding from the community for the plight of a small sector of our people who are within our midst, whether we like it or not. In doing so, that sector may be saved some of the misery that is theirs today. Laws directed at male adult homosexuals are discriminatory, because they apply to only one sex. Fears of the negative consequences of repealing these laws are supported neither by logic nor by data. Proof of these consequences should lie on the shoulders of those who insist that a law that is not implemented should remain unchanged.
Dr WALL (Porirua)—I express my sympathy with the member who has introduced this Bill. As has been mentioned earlier, I, along with other members of the House, am in a position to appreciate the turmoil he has been through. I also appreciate the tremendous integrity and toleration he has shown in the argument that has gone on, and the tremendous courage he has exhibited in standing up against the uninformed and prejudiced criticism that has come his way. The House should be proud that we have in our midst someone capable of exercising that tolerance, despite the pressures he has been under. This is the time to report what happened in the committee. As the chairman has stated, I advanced certain amendments, which were defeated by a majority vote, but other changes were made. The first change in the Bill is probably the most significant one, and the one that is of the greatest concern to me. This may set the tone and explain to the House better than anything else what was done in the committee. Let me read the last section of the preamble: “And whereas it is desirable to increase the protection afforded by the law to young persons against homosexual molestation.” That has been struck out, and I think it is most significant that the committee did this. I know that the member introducing the Bill wanted to see that this was done, but in the committee that, with the content behind it, was struck out. That is a matter of considerable concern to me and, I think, to every right-thinking person. I support the basic intent of this Bill— that private moral or immoral acts between consenting adults which do not of themselves have social significance should not be subject to punitive action by law. I support that, as I think every reasonable person would. But unfortunately, in the guise of ensuring that sort of protection to those individuals in their private capacity, a great deal more is being done. Considerable evidence was brought before the committee that it has not been done by chance, but is intentionally being done, and will undoubtedly affect the social structure of our community in the years ahead. It will considerably affect, and has already affected, the attitude of our young people in a way that cannot be healthy to this society. In order to achieve what the mover of this Bill wanted, I went along with him in its introduction, and I still do. But I do recommend to the House that it considers well the tenor of the amendments that the committee rejected. I think the House should, in the Committee stage of this Bill, be given the opportunity to bring in these amendments. I think it is right that in this report these amendments should be brought before the House so that individual members may consider them, and consider their function; because they do, in what I think is an effective and acceptable way, provide the protection that so many right-thinking, serious, and compassionate people in New Zealand want for the rising generation. An amendment I put forward was to the effect that it would be an offence under the Act to do anything or say anything to any person under the age of 20 years which would lead him to believe, or was intended to lead him to believe, that homosexual acts are normal. The rest of the amendments, and there are several, although I shall not deal with them at this stage in detail, are all resultant on that. We are not making moral judgments; we are not condemning the doubtful or probable decency or indecency of these acts or of any propaganda associated with them; but we are declaring effectively what society itself knows and has always accepted: that, no matter how compulsive the nature of the impulses that have forced people to act in this way, the acts, and the attitudes producing those acts, are abnormal. All I ask is that we as a House declare what society knows: that these acts are abnormal and that those who are engaged in trying to promote the attitude in our society that homosexual activity is like left-handedness, and has no more significance to the social structure of our society than left-handedness and righthandedness, should have their activities restricted. A considerable amount of evidence before the committee was, as members would naturally be aware, of a tremendously partisan nature, but I was concerned that the main proponents of this type of reform, who made certain publicly acknowledged representations along the narrow field which I accept, stated that the objectives of the dominating body in the Homosexual Law Reform Society extended away and beyond that field, although at this time they would not advance anything more than a limited objective because they knew they did not have the support of the respectable and responsible bodies who have so far supported them. However, they did state that they intended to go ahead and promote a very much more extensive activity. They intended not only to promote social acceptance, but also total equality between homosexual and heterosexual acts and approaches within our society, but they would not do it now because to do so would be to lose the facade of respectability and intellectual acceptance derived from the responsible people behind them. I think that should be recorded at this stage, because it was the tone of so much of the evidence that came before us. We saw a member of one of the medical bodies, who apparently gave us a totally dispassionate and informed professional opinion, shift back from the table and take his seat again as a member of probably one of the most partisan groups of the lot, the Homosexual Law Reform Society. That was the sort of difficulty we were faced with in sorting out the evidence. Personally, I found the most reliable evidence, particularly in the professional field, was not that put forward by the representatives at the committee, but that contained in the papers they brought forward—papers that had been written for objective scientific purposes. I think the contents of these papers should be brought out during the second reading debate. I ask at this stage that members acquaint themselves with the proposed amendments, and I shall make them available to all members. All those who are concerned not only with compassion for the homosexual, but also with the maintenance of good standards in our society, should have an opportunity of perusing these amendments before the next stage of the Bill.
Hon. DAVID THOMSON (Stratford) —As members know, I opposed the introduction of this Bill. During the deliberations of the committee, as a member of the committee I advised other members that I would divide the committee and the House on this Bill at every opportunity. The Bill should proceed no further. I acknowledge the fact that the member for Egmont has been justified in introducing the Bill by the very substantial volume of evidence received and by the very great public interest in it that has been displayed. The fact that we heard 150 witnesses and sat for more than 6 months is complete justification for his action. The committee hearings were held in public by order of this House, and the evidence was given wide publicity so that members would be very well informed on what the evidence was and on prevailing attitudes. Therefore the argument of the member for Waitemata that members will not be in a position to make a decision now falls to the ground.
Dr Bassett—I didn't say that.
Hon. DAVID THOMSON.—Yes, indeed, the member for Waitemata endeavoured to draw an analogy between this issue and abortion, but the abortion Bill had not been referred to a select committee. We have had 6 months of public study of this Bill, and members are very well informed on the issue. I wish to make brief reference to the comments of the member for Porirua on the amendments he offered in the committee. One can appreciate his concern about the association of homosexuals and their advocacy of homosexual practice, but the problem is that his amendments would have done greater wrong by denying freedom of association for what would become lawful activities, and freedom of speech to advocates of lawful activities, and clearly the committee could not agree to that. I must express my regret that the member for Waitemata reported the evidence of church groups in a way designed to have members believe that only the Catholic Church was divided. The member for Egmont made it clear that all the churches were divided, and it would be quite improper to suggest that only the Catholic Church was divided. The chief characteristics of the evidence, it seemed to me, were a regrettable lack of scientific fact and a demonstrable need for research, which was acknowledged even by those most closely concerned with the problem. There was no shortage of concern from all groups, and the positions adopted by the witnesses were mostly subjective. But there was nothing to invalidate the view I have already expressed that indecent acts and sodomy should not be made lawful and therefore acquire a colour of right and propriety, The criminal law does not condemn a person's condition, but it does censure certain acts. Most members will feel concern for the pitiful condition of the homosexual in the same way that one feels concern for a person who is obsessed with a craving for drugs, and the same may well apply to those who are afflicted with ungovernable rages which lead them to break the criminal law and assault other people. The principal effect of the Bill as reported back will be to give a colour of right and propriety to indecent acts and sodomy by making such acts completely lawful when indulged in by consenting adults in private, but criminal and liable to 5 years' imprisonment in the case of indecency, or 7 or 14 years depending on sex in the case of sodomy, when indulged in by consenting minors between 16 and 20 years of age, whether committed with adults or with minors: and also criminal but excused from prosecution where indulged in by a consenting boy under 16 years of age except where the other consenting party is a minor. Many people are suffering under a misapprehension. The criminal law lays down penalties in these sections, but it does not say that a convicted person must be sent to prison. There is no minimum penalty. There is not even any guidance, as there is in the Narcotics Act, which states that imprisonment should be considered except in certain cases. Mr McKenzie, the director of research for the Department of Justice, wrote in an article for a New Zealand Medical Journal special number in 1967 that at that time a study showed that no homosexual inmate was serving a sentence for offences against adults alone. As I have already told the House, I am very concerned with the growth of permissiveness and the effects of that not only on the community as a whole but also on individuals within the community, because the criminal law must protect not only the community but the individual as well. It can be of great assistance to individuals in its warnings. It is a fence at the top of a precipitous cliff. I am very concerned over the considerable growth in venereal disease. Evidence has been tendered that a great deal of the spread of venereal disease is due to homosexual acts. Indeed, studies in Britain have shown that 42.4 percent of primary and secondary syphilis infections were transmitted homosexually. Evidence from the Deputy Director of Epidemiology in New South Wales, Dr Lopus, revealed that it is his estimate that as much as 70 percent of syphilis is transmitted homosexually in a big city such as Sydney. This is not a subject where we can allow our emotions to run away with such facts as we do have, because the facts are alarming. I am quite certain that members are adequately informed, and certainly very concerned, not merely with those who have a homosexual condition, but with every individual in the community and with the whole community at large. We must divide on this Bill at every opportunity, and I urge members not to allow the Bill to proceed any further.
Hon. Dr A. M. FINLAY (Minister of Justice)—I intended to participate only to a very small degree in this debate at this stage, which I think is the proper way to do it because normally we do not debate at great length the reporting back of a committee. Virtually all that needs to be said has already been said. My general attitude to the Bill when it was introduced was to support it in principle. I still support it, and I do so in full now, because I think it is an improved Bill as a result of the proceedings of the committee. I can understand the firm opposition entertained by the member for Stratford to the Bill and every part of it, and of course I respect that; but I do think it is unacceptably intolerant to ask the House to strike it down at this stage without members having the opportunity to consider it and to hear in more detail the very voluminous evidence given to the committee. Each of us has in his sion four large folders of evidence which I must reread, some of which no doubt will be summarised to the House at the appropriate time during the second reading debate. The House is entitled to know more of what went on in the committee, and it is much too facile to say that because the committee was open to the news media the resulting publicity was adequate to enable members to make a fully informed judgment. Some proceedings were reported, but, of course, all could not be, and, in particular, many of the exchanges that took place between some members and witnesses were not reported because, as is the normal custom, the press reporters were interested in the written submissions and did not have time to stay for the whole proceedings.
Hon. L. R. Adams-Schneider—We've all been bombarded with correspondence.
Hon. Dr A. M. FINLAY—Yes, we have all had a great deal of correspondence, but it is not necessarily informed. It seems to have the mark of prejudice, rather than careful study and information, on both sides. So I think it is appropriate that the matter should proceed. I compliment the member for Waitemata on his chairmanship of the committee. It was a difficult assignment, with a situation that could readily have got out of hand. He showed a mastery of the whole proceedings which I think is worth drawing to the attention of the House. He handled witnesses whose views were very different from his own, and dealt with very controversial material with a great deal of courtesy and aplomb, and I am sure everyone who attended went away feeling he had had a good hearing with every opportunity to say what he wanted to say. Some of the questioning that took place was most revealing and informative. In the course of his remarks the member for Waitemata paid a tribute, and was generous indeed, but no more than appropriately generous, to the member for Egmont for his courage and initiative in introducing the Bill, and I want to endorse that. Unfortunately, owing to other committees sitting concurrently, I was unable to be present at all the meetings, but of course I studied the evidence and will do so again. I want to deal with only one point, that made by the member for Porirua, who spoke of some amendments he moved which were not acceptable to the majority on the committee. He mentioned the substance of some of them. He spoke of the danger of homosexual molestation, which is referred to in the preamble now dropped from the Bill. I believe that the danger is exaggerated. I know there is a danger of sexual molestation, but I do not think it is any greater from a homosexual quarter than it is from a heterosexual quarter. We are not exposing young people to any greater danger by this step than the one to which they are already exposed at the hands of the more customary and socially accepted form of sexual expression through heterosexual avenues. I also believe that the fears expressed by the member for Porirua to the committee, and repeated in this House, are exaggerated. He spoke of the main content of one of his amendments, which was to the effect that it should be made illegal to do anything or say anything to any person under the age of 20 which would lead him to believe, or was intended to lead him to believe, that homosexual acts were normal. Quite apart from the difficulty of defining and applying that elusive word “normal” for anything other than mere statistical purposes, there remains the indisputable fact that for some individuals homosexual behaviour is, in fact, normal. To pretend otherwise is to delude ourselves. If we made it against the law to refer to something which indeed exists in the makeup and personality of certain individuals, and which on the evidence seems to be ineradicable, then we would be doing something which would be hard to apply and very wrong to try to apply. The difficulties of giving effect to the views put forward by the member for Porirua were so daunting that I concluded it was a mistake to try to go further with them. He will inform the House of the other amendments he wanted to have adopted. All I shall say is that we did have a long discussion of them, and were dissuaded from carrying them further by the wide-ranging terms of section 66 of the Crimes Act as it now stands, which makes a party to an offence not only the actual offender but also anyone who does or omits any act for the purpose of aiding any person to commit the offence, or who abets any person in the commission of an offence, or—and this is the very wideranging one—“incites, counsels, or procures any person to commit the offence”. We came to the conclusion that that was sufficiently widely stated to cover virtually, if not entirely, all the people whose activities the member for Porirua wanted to see forbidden in the remaining amendments he moved, which were rejected by the majority of the committee. It is most desirable that we should proceed to a full second reading debate, which I hope will be an informative and enlightened one, with no giving way to prejudice on either side.
Mr LUXTON (Piako)—The Crimes Amendment Bill has been very difficult legislation to deal with, and I should like to congratulate the member for Waitemata, who chaired the select committee under very difficult circumstances. The member for Egmont introduced the measure because he had real feelings about the legislation. I believe that we should receive the report of the committee and that the matter should be discussed further in the House. The select committee was composed of members who had quite clearly made up their minds. The member for Stratford has already indicated that he knew where he stood, and I do not believe that any amount of evidence, no matter how strong, would have changed his mind. Other members of the committee felt it was time for a change. I came into a third category. I was prepared to listen to the evidence, to weigh it up, and to make a decision that would satisfy my conscience. The weight of evidence clearly demonstrated the support for the proposal to change the Crimes Act in the way the legislation is now drafted. Many of those who came before the select committee felt that the proposed legislation did not go far enough. There will be a free vote on this issue. It would be easy for every member to decide to vote against the Bill and not believe we have such a problem in our society. Such a decision will be acceptable to constituents, because about 98 percent of them are normally heterosexual in character. For that reason, members will vote in a popular way. But there is a deeper issue, and each member as an individual has to think of that small section of our community who, in my opinion, are handicapped as far as heterosexual relationships are concerned. I do not, and cannot, accept the idea that homosexual acts between consenting adults are normal. I regard this very small percentage of our people as being sexually handicapped, and, as such they need all the compassion and understanding the massive majority of the normal heterosexual community can muster. Over a long period our attitudes have changed towards all handicapped members of our community. The committee of the Presbyterian Church of New Zealand indicated my feelings on the matter, and I should like to quote from its submissions: “There is concern within the Church at claims that homosexuality is regarded as a normal sexual condition. The 1974 Assembly declared that homosexual practices are contrary to the will of God and should not be regarded as normal. The Church sees a real need for society to assist those subject to homosexual tendencies to cope with such tendencies and to develop, if possible, towards normal heterosexual orientation. The Church envisages the possibility of appropriate treatment centres rather than prisons for those for whom homosexuality is a problem.” I believe that with the passing of this Act, such treatment or counselling centres could be established. As legislators we must ask ourselves whether we are prepared to see the Crimes Act administered by the police in the way that the law states at present. If we are not, is it proper to have law on the statute book that we have no intention of enforcing? If we feel the Act should be enforced, are we prepared to provide the prisons for the numbers involved? A British Medical Association pamphlet suggests that the proportion of homosexuals is 1:25 among men and 1:45 among women. I believe that this figure is too high. Expert witnesses informed the committee that homosexuality is not a matter of choice, that it is not an illness, that it is not hereditary, but that it is the result of influences and relationships at a very early age. I should like to ask this question: if this Bill is not passed, would any member be p to introduce a Bill which would provide that homosexual acts between females, commonly known as lesbians, would be an offence, as it is now for males? I think the Bill could be strengthened. I have some sympathy for the feelings held by the member for Porirua about homosexual acts. There are many issues in our society that we do not support. As a Christian, I certainly do not support adultery, or other similar actions. As legislators, we are not prepared to have these acts considered as crimes. I believe the House should allow the Bill to have a second reading, and that is where I stand.
Dr BASSETT (Waitemata)—I want briefly to thank members for their comments. The member who introduced the spoke well, I thought, of efforts that had been made to help with rehabilitation, and their not very great success. He also expressed the opinion that the way to help someone who was born a homosexual or someone who was influenced to become one in early life was not to punish that person but to attempt to aid him to adjust to what most, if not all, homosexuals would probably regard as a misfortune not of their own making. I agree, too, that this House needs at times to show some compassion for individual people with problems of social adjustment, and this Bill is an attempt to do that. The member for Porirua saw great significance in the striking out of the preamble to the original Bill. I must say I do not recall his opposing the removal of the preamble, although he may have done so. I do not think it is appropriate to suggest that there was some sinister motive behind the taking out of the preamble, because the committee was determined, I think, to see that young people who might be able to be influenced adversely could not be influenced adversely as a result of anything it did. I think that the suggestions made by the member for Porirua-the suggested submissions, and the additional amendments he moved in the committee, and also the comments by the Department of Justice on those suggestions—should be made public. In this connection, I think it should be mentioned that the Department of Justice made the comment that it was strongly of the view that if the price of reform was the creation of such offences as the member was suggesting, it would be wiser to abandon altogether the idea of reform. I must say that I agree with that. There are far too many dangers in some of the suggestions made by the member for Porirua, and I hope that members will consider them very carefully before adopting them. The speech by the member for Stratford, was, I thought, predictable. His version of the evidence that was given must be treated as his and his alone. I think one should counsel against any suggestion that the reporting back of this Bill should be rejected. I suggest that people could have a very bad view of this House if, having charged a committee with the task of hearing submissions on a matter, and the committee having carried out that task, the House then refused to receive back— sight unseen, really—the voluminous findings and feeling of the members of that committee. It would bring odium on this House if it were to refuse to receive back the opinions of the people who had been charged with the responsibility of performing a task for the House. Finally, let me say that I found the speech of the member for Piako perhaps the most moving of all the speeches this morning. He alone, I think, had a genuinely open mind when the committee met, and he has given the House this morning some of his feelings as a result of hearing the submissions. This House must respect his Opinions.
The House divided on the question, That the motion be agreed to. Ayes, 52 Arthur; Bailey; Barclay, B. G.; Barclay, R. M.; Batchelor; Begg; Birch; Burke; Colman; Comber; Davey; Douglas, N. V.; Downie; Faulkner; Finlay; Freer; Gordon; Harrison; Highet; Holyoake; Hunt; Isbey; Jack; Jelicich; King; Luxton; MacDonell; McGuigan; McLachlan; Marshall, C. R.; May; Mayson; Moore; Moyle; Muldoon; Munro; O'Brien; O'Flynn; Rata; Ridley; Rogers; Schultz; Smith; Talboys; Tirikatene-Sullivan; Tizard; Walding; Wall; Williams; Young, T. J. Tellers: Bassett; Young, V. S. Noes, 17 Allen, K. R.; Allen, P. B.; Brooks; Carter; Connelly; Drayton; Gill; Kirk; Lapwood; McCready; Marshall, J. R.; Sloane; Talbot; Walker; Young, W. L. Tellers: AdamsSchneider; Thomson. Majority for, 35. Motion agreed to.
Hon. R. D. MULDOON (Leader of the Opposition)—A point of order, Mr Speaker. Will the Acting Prime Minister tell us whether, if this Bill is given a second reading, it is the Government's intention to bring in, as was done in the case of the Hospitals Amendment Bill, a Governor-General's Message, thus enabling this Bill to proceed.
Hon. R. J. TIZARD (Acting Prime Minister)—No, that would not be done at this stage. We have made a decision to handle it in the same way as the other Bill.