4 July 1975, New Zealand Parliament
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Hon. L. W. GANDAR (Ruahine)—At the adjournment last night I had outlined the four reasons why I consider this Bill should be supported. What we have been debating is not whether homosexuality is something that should be recognised or condoned, but a Crimes Amendment Bill which sets out certain homosexual acts as being contrary to the law. This point should be emphasised. As a heterosexual male I do not find it easy to comprehend homosexuals or what generates homosexuality. However, I do know that it exists, and therefore I am compelled to examine the place of the homosexual in our society. I have been immensely influenced by a paper given by a leading child psychiatrist in this country in which he stated that some surveys of psychiatric opinion show that approximately two-thirds of psychiatrists regard homosexuality as being either a neurotic symptom or an inversion of normal development, approximately one-third see it as a normal variant like left-handedness, and a very small percentage see it as a disease—the point being that there are identifiable periods in the life of a person where these tendencies can in fact develop. While ordinary homosexual males are similar to heterosexual males in the prevalence of certain phobias—anxiety neuroses, psychosomatic symptoms, and depression— there is very strong evidence to show that there is a definite increase in suicide attempts, alcohol abuse, and moodaltering drug abuse. So long as the law makes it impossible for these people to obtain some assistance, then in my view we are not helping them to come to terms with things over which they have not entirely had control. This psychiatrist goes on to say: “One significant difference is that more homosexuals than heterosexuals lose at least one parent before the age of 10. Other tendencies are for the male homosexual to have had a dominating, overprotective, and basically male-hostile mother who has openly preferred her son to her husband. In addition, there has been a tendency towards a weak, absent, or affectionless father—sometimes a very assaultative father.” Those factors are not the fault of that young child. Then there is one other point to which I would draw the attention of the House. In this report the psychiatrist says: “As regards therapy, homosexuals do not readily come to treatment, they come less readily when the law makes it impossible for them to do so.” I shall conclude by making reference to the publication Crime in New Zealand, which quotes Sir Hugh Linstead, a member of the Wolfenden committee and a member of the British House of Commons, who in far better words than I could use gave a very cogent summary of the argument for changing the law: “There are two courses open to the community, and the question we have to answer is, by which of these two courses is morality better served? The first course is to make no change. If we make no change, then we are acquiescing in the continuance of a capriciously enforced Act of Parliament”—and the same thing applies in this country. “We are acquiescing in a deep divergency in judicial opinion”—and I am sure that this also applies in New Zealand. “We are acquiescing in a different treatment before the law for the homosexual as compared with other sexual offenders such as adulterers, fornicators, lesbians, and so forth. The alternative choice is to recogmise that this is a moral and not a legal question, and to let it be dealt with by social and moral sanctions of public opinion.”
Mr O’BRIEN (Island Bay)—I congratulate the member for Egmont on his courage in introducing this measure which is long overdue. He was deeply convinced of the need for change and he has gone to great lengths, at great personal hardship, to advance his particular view. Like my colleagues the member for Porirua and the member for Waitemata, among others, I support the intention of the Bill, although not necessarily every detail of it, as reported back from the select committee. The House is indebted to the chairman of the committee, my colleague the member for Waitemata, for the manner in which he very judiciously conducted the committee's hearings on this Bill, and for the dignity he leant to that particular office and to the House itself in approaching this question. We are also indebted to my colleague the member for Porirua for a rather erudite statement on some fundamental facts last night, although there may be some areas where some members, and I too, would not agree with him. The member for East Coast Bays spoke of humility in approaching this question. Members of the House have all appeared to approach this subject in that spirit, which is exactly the right approach, because really we are dealing in human lives. There are no doubt deep divisions among thinking people, intelligent people, and sincere people, and their views I respect, as does everybody in this House; but I hope that those people will also respect those who, for a variety of reasons, differed from them. As the member for Ruahine said, the question is simply whether homosexual conduct between consenting adults in private should be freed from legal constraint; it is not a question of whether it should be freed from moral constraint. The case for this justice has been proved and I will not restate it. It is not a question of faith or morals but, as Rolland O’Regan wisely said, “one of social and legal policy”. We have to differentiate between the moral law and the criminal law. While of course I am concerned, I would hesitate to speak on morality in this Chamber. There are authorities who can do that well, and do do it well, but in viewing the criminal law on this matter I find the sum of human wreckage that it creates is one that is morally hard to defend. In that sense I would use the argument for morality in this Chamber. We are not talking about normality or abnormality, or what is natural or what is unnatural. These are relative terms and relate to the norm. If those who are biologically homosexual are in a minority, their state is clearly, in logic, abnormal by the social measure of the norm. It is only in that respect that I would concede that their condition is abnormal. Change in the law, as evidence from the departments concerned made crystal clear, will not in any respect affect the actual number of homosexual acts committed in New Zealand, nor will change in the law affect the heterosexual, or direct adolescent sexual experiences into channels not biologically natural to the individual. No change in the law can make anyone homosexual. Neither can legal proscriptions change the homosexual. Only a change in biological laws can bring change. It is not a legal condition; it is a biological state. The state of homosexuality has nothing to do with morality; only its practice is in that sphere. Neither is the state of homosexuality illegal or criminal in itself, but only its practice. Evidence given to the committee tended to support the biological argument. We were told that hormone differences are detectable, and that physical characteristics are readily discernible. Change aimed at redirecting sexual drive cannot be legislated, and its desirability is also suspect. That is the point I wanted to make. I am not talking about child molestation — paedophilia — nor about kleptomania, necrophilia, or other forms of aberrant sexuality which have a victim. I suppose these could be classified as perversions, but even that is a loose use of the word. They are perversions—if we use that term—which, for social reasons, demand legal proscriptions that accord protection through social retribution. But the paedophiliac, the necrophiliac, and the kleptomaniac are not homosexuals and are thus not affected one way or the other by the proposed change in the law before us, notwithstanding the clouds of smoke that went up trying to induce the committee to look in other directions. I cannot accept, either, that homosexuals are sick or ill, yet many who hold that view want to see homosexuals sent to prison. Under the logic of those people, the sick are to be treated by a course of imprisonment. I wonder if this foreshadows the day when people will be dashing up to Mount Crawford to have their appendix out? Prison as a form of treatment has to be ruled out. If treatment simply means counselling, it is good, but if treatment itself constitutes a warping of a person's inherent sexual proclivities—which specialists conducting socalled treatment freely admitted was the psychological intent—then that treatment is unnatural, grotesque, and might well be considered immoral. It takes the form of Pavlov-conditioning of a human being. Expert opinion was, as to be expected, practically unanimous on the need to lift the legal proscription. It was also unanimous that if the legal proscription is lifted there is unlikely to be a sudden conversion of all the biologically heterosexual 96 percent of the population. I cannot believe that our country is harbouring many hundreds of thousands of latent homosexuals just awaiting a change in the law. It is pertinent to observe also that the change in the law does not make homosexual conduct compulsory. I am opposed to society's demand for imprisonment because I find it neither virtuous nor compassionate. The alternative might well be a life of total continence. Be that as it may, it then becomes a social proscription or a matter of individual conscience, and that is what I have always held it should be. I have long felt that prison, even in Paremoremo's new decorative pastel shades, tends to substitute psychological for physical brutality. Even the brutal ancient Romans never incarcerated people for a punishment. Imprisonment leaves permanent scars, and in most cases degrades and does not elevate or generate social rebirth or achieve so-called rehabilitation. It achieves these least of all when the prisoner, the victim in those cases where consenting adults are concerned, feels imprisonment itself is a grave injustice committed against him. It seems to be a question of justice versus the law. The law declares homosexual practice by males to be illegal and punishable, but declares homosexual practice by females not to be illegal, and thus unpunishable. In this comparison the law fares badly. It cannot be both ambivalent and just. If it is one, it is not the other. The law does not make adultery an offence, yet it is far more socially destructive than homosexuality. The law's intrusion in matters of conscience elevates the courts to a level of authority which intrudes as a judge or arbiter on individual conscience. On the moral front, Bishop Mackey indicated that the Catholic bishops favoured law reform but were fearful of a decline in moral standards. It is well for them to sound such an alarm just as they constantly warn on the state of morality generally. But, as Bishop Mackey says, the bishops favoured reform. I draw the attention of the House to the fact that Cardinal Heenan, Archbishop of Westminster, established in the United Kingdom, at the time of Wolfenden, a committee to consider these matters. The committee consisted of a professor of moral theology, a parish priest, a Queen's Counsel, a doctor of medicine specialising in psychiatry, a psychiatric sociologist, and a welfare officer, and met under the chairmanship of the monsignor who is chaplain of London University. This committee was unanimous in its recommendations, the principal one of which is sought to be enshrined in the Bill before the House at present. As only two churches made submissions to the Wolfenden commission—the Catholic Church and the Anglican Church— their weight was significant in that committee's final report, and Sir John Wolfenden himself gave due weight to this fact. It may be significant to comment that in countries with a strong Catholic tradition there is no such law as that which we are being asked to reform here today, and I quote Spain and Italy as two outstanding examples. I have approached this issue bearing in mind the parable of the publican and the Pharisee and have tried to judge by the standards inherent in that parable. There were times in the committee when I was awed by a veritable sanhedrin of Pharisees who, whilst doling out compassion and love, also wanted imprisonment doled out at the same time. Their holier-than-thou attitude struck me again as grotesque and unchristian. I cannot accept that the exercise of the virtue of compassion requires commitment of the recipient of that compassion to imprisonment. In conclusion, could I just quote an editorial from the Zealandia of 4 August 1974: “Homosexuality is not solved or eased by a punitive law arbitrary in its application and fraught with difficulties in its enforcement. In fact, the Christian gospel has always required that human sexuality, whatever way it be channelled and expressed, is seen as the language of selfless committed love, a God-given gift which makes sense only when seen in those terms. This is a level which no legal sanctions can ever guarantee, for it involves an empowering grace which no law can claim to confer.”
Mr TALBOT (South Canterbury)— Unlike the member for Kapiti, who spoke last night, I have no difficulty in making up my mind how to vote on this Bill. I cannot support it, and I sincerely hope that Parliament will take a stand and not vote for it. I believe it is dangerous to alter one law without considering the consequences of many others. This caution, I believe, is particularly pertinent since a move for a change in the law of homosexuality is only one of a series sought by many permissive groups in our society. The network of change of these groups also includes the abolition of religious education in schools, easier abortion, removal of censorship or control of pornography, easy divorce, permissive laws on soft drugs, and even the introduction of euthanasia. I would ask those who support the change on homosexuality to consider whether they want this package deal. To make homosexual practices in private legal would be, in most people's eyes, to make them right. At this point we can only guess what the long-term effects would be, but it is possible they would be harmful. The change currently sought may, to many, sound reasonable enough, but it would be naive to suppose that the demand would stop there. In Britain, for instance, there are now moves to lower the age of consent. It follows logically that if homosexuality is presented as natural and harmless there would be increasing pressure for further acceptance, and in fact there would be, in consequence, less and less incentive to seek help, but more and more inducement to involve young people in their formative years. Moreover, there would be pressures to institutionalise relationships by formal marriage, and contracts and so on. The evidence from history indicates that widespread acceptance of homosexuality has been found in civilisations going into decline. This evidence does not show how the chain of events operates, but the implications of the link must be considered very seriously. I have presented all these arguments without drawing on the underlying moral question—that is, the Christian condemnation of homosexual acts as wrong. Some would see this argument as the most compelling; others would reject it as irrelevant. Regardless of conviction on this, these other considerations make it clear that the issue is in fact much more complex than is popularly suggested. Even if one accepts the proposition that it is not the function of the law to maintain moral standards, this does not mean that one therefore rejects the moral argument. Those prepared to accept the proposition that homosexual acts are immoral must also ask themselves whether a change in the law to permit immoral acts would be a good law. Even though the law might not enforce morality, it should be consistent with our accepted moral standards. This I believe most strongly if our present society as we know it is to survive. To adopt the British law would be, I believe, a weak move. It would be to try to deal with the problem by giving in instead of accepting responsibility for legislation that will strengthen society and help individuals to a healthy adjustment. It would be to condemn them to their state of maladjustment with no encouragement to change—and this is not compassion. It would be to trade a short-term solution for a long-term problem. I believe that a wise law should recognise the roots of homosexuality and strive towards prevention, and a wise law would seek to ensure that those who want help get it. The solution to a law which is seen to be abused is to frame a better one, not to sidestep the issue altogether. The proposed changes could solve some of the practical problems, but perhaps they could also lay the foundations for even bigger ones than we have at present. Furthermore, there is now overwhelming evidence that the key to the problem of homosexuality lies in a disturbed pattern of family relations. It is said that a nation is only as strong as its families, and we must remember that. The present need is for preventive measures at the level of family living. In the meantime, the needs of homosexuals should be explored with all compassion, to seek ways in which they can find a satisfactory adjustment. It is definitely not clear that this can be done within the framework of this proposed legislation. I therefore cannot support the Bill.
Mr LANEY (Oamaru)—A feature of this debate so far has been a tendency for the supporters of the Bill to base their support on what other countries have done and on the opinion of so-called experts as expressed in articles and surveys, which have been freely quoted. In opposing the Bill I do not intend to follow that course. I can see no need for the Bill, nor can I see any reason for its introduction into this House. I do not say that there is no problem. There is a problem, but, as I see it, it is being contained and generally treated with sympathy. We will not solve the problem by enacting legislation which is a step towards recognising homosexuality as something that is normal. I cannot accept that. Part of my education was the acquisition of a knowledge of the facts of life, including the biological and physiological facts so far as living things are concerned, and that included a knowledge of the processes of reproduction—that living things are equipped with organs especially designed for this purpose, male and female, different but complimentary. Normal behaviour is based on the correct use of those organs, and departure from the correct use is an abuse or a deviation. Homosexual behaviour is one, and should be regarded as such. It would appear, however, that there is a period in the early development of the human being when he or she is more susceptible to pressures causing them to deviate from the normal, in particular so far as sex behaviour is concerned. Our task is to ensure that young people are guided safely through that period and given a reasonable chance to proceed to a normal way of life. I believe that the passage of this Bill will, in effect, condone the practice of homosexuality as something which is accepted, is given an appearance of respectability, and may even be regarded as normal. Under such circumstances the incidence of homosexual behaviour will increase, and what is now a small problem able to be contained and dealt with sympathetically will become a mighty big and uncontrollable one. Today we are concerned at the increase in the incidence of juvenile crime, at the increase in the incidence of teenage pregnancies, particularly among very young girls, and at the increase in the incidence of alcoholism among young people; and it is no credit to this country that in one of our psychiatric hospitals the percentage of alcoholism is very greatest among people under 25 years of age. There is also an increase in the incidence of defiance of authority by juveniles. These problems have always been with us but under reasonable control, a small problem which went out of control when The Little Red Book was let loose among the young people of this country. A great many people expressed concern at the time as to what might happen when it was allowed to circulate freely. Some of those approached the Prime Minister of the day, who said that if it were left alone it would soon be forgotten. It was not left alone, and what was once a little problem under control became an avalanche the consequences of which are bad enough now but are yet to be fully realised. The passage of this Bill would give a further boost to the wave of permissiveness, would broaden its scope, and would be a threat to the moral and general well-being of the young people of this country, and thus a threat to the future of a stable society. I am convinced there are other ways to deal with this problem. I oppose the Bill.
Mr WILKINSON (Rodney)–First, I would like to join with my colleagues in expressing my deep respect to the member for Egmont for his courage and sincerity in introducing this Bill, and for withstanding all the prejudice and all the pressures that the measure has provoked. His constancy under fire and his tolerance of opposing views have definitely been an inspiration to us all. I must, however, take issue on several points he made in moving the second reading of the Bill. First, I take up the argument that it is not the function of the law to enter the field of morals. This is a statement which has been widely coined in the course of this and other recent major moral controversies in this country, but in fact there is no country, no society, without its moral code, its taboos, and its own values backed by legal as well as moral sanctions. There is no country in the world that does not recognise that at a certain stage the State must step in with legal sanctions to regulate sexual behaviour, and the difference between the so-called conservative and the so-called liberal countries is merely one of degree. This is well illustrated by the fact that this Bill itself does not hesitate to impose legal sanctions in the case of indecent acts performed on minors and mental defectives, acts performed under threat of violence, and the like. So let us disabuse ourselves of the idea that it is not a proper role of the law to proscribe sexual behaviour to a greater or lesser degree. It is not on this argument, however, that I rest my case. Next I take issue with the assertion that the burden of proof should be on those opposed to the change in the law. I use the word “assertion” advisedly, because no satisfactory argument was adduced in support of this. In my view the onus is on the reformers. The member for Egmont said that from tomorrow— if this Bill is passed into law—it would “not be illegal” to perform sodomy and indecent acts between consenting adult males. In thus choosing his words so carefully he was obviously wanting to dissociate himself from a position of appearing to condone the acts. I cannot see, and he did not show, how the removal of the legal sanctions with respect to these acts can fail to be seen by many people— particularly those who are vulnerable because they are immature—as the State condoning these acts. I cannot regard these acts as normal, and they are not rendered normal by the State being seen to condone them. I come now to the viewpoint expressed by some speakers that homosexual behaviour cannot be condoned but should not be treated as criminal. I do not attribute great weight to this attitude. After all, what are criminal acts? They are simply acts the State decides must be treated as crimes—nothing more and nothing less. We need produce no other reason for justifying the treating of homosexual acts as crimes beyond showing they are harmful to society. It was Thoreau who reminded us that many people lead lives of “quiet desperation”. I am quite ready to believe that many homosexuals lead lives of quiet desperation, and that there are very strong compassionate grounds for protecting many of them from prosecution, and particularly from jail. But compassion alone is not a sufficiently strong factor to weigh against the arguments in favour of retaining the law as it is. I am ready to accept the assurance of the member for West Coast that the existing laws against homosexuals are used very sparingly and that no more than a handful of known homosexuals are ever prosecuted. Much more to the point in my opinion, however, is the fact—never stressed, and hardly ever mentioned in all the long-drawn-out controversy on homosexual law reform— that even when homosexuals are prosecuted they do not, under the law as it stands, have to go to jail. There are other courses of action more humane and more relevant to the needs of the accused that are already open to the courts under the existing law. What about the position regarding those who actually go to jail? I have just been given figures put out by the Department of Justice which show that in 1971 only 29 males were received in prison for homosexual offences. In 1972 the figure was 26, and in 1973 it was 30. So the extent to which jail is resorted to is far less than many people realise. My assessment, after many months of sounding out the opinion of ordinary average New Zealanders in my own electorate and up and down the country, is that this Bill, if passed, would be foisted on our community against the wishes of a significant majority, notwithstanding the submissions from many reform groups who are naturally more ready to come forward than those who want the law retained. This fact has very important consequences. Take, for example, the case of blackmail, so often brought up as an argument to justify reform. If we remove the legal sanction one motive for blackmail is removed, but the social sanction would, in my opinion, remain extremely strong and persuasive. A major motive for blackmail remains so long as a strong social stigma continues. We are a conservative country when it come to morals. It is no good trying to pretend that we are not. It is no good liberal reformers saying we should not be. The homosexual who leads a life of quiet desperation is fooling himself if he thinks that the removal of the legal sanction will change people's attitudes. If he is convinced of the rightness of his cause he must do a much more convincing job on public opinion than he has to date. If he forces a change in the law now, he is almost certain to find social acceptance as far away as ever, and perhaps even further away. Before concluding I want to come to one or two miscellaneous items that have been raised at one time or another in the course of this controversy. First, there has been a great deal made of the fact that several overseas legislatures have passed homosexual law reform measures. In fact, in countries comprising about five-sixths of the world's population prohibition on homosexual acts is retained. Next, much has been made of the fact that many people are born homosexuals and cannot be cured. The onus is on the proponents of reform to prove this, and they have certainly not done so to my satisfaction. In fact, there is weighty evidence to the contrary. For example, Dr Court, senior lecturer in clinical psychology at Flinders University, South Australia, and an honorary consultant psychologist for the Australian Mental Health Service, says it appears safe to agree with Professor James's paper of 1970. Professor James, who is professor of psychiatry at the Otago medical school, said: “There is now little support for the notion that homosexuality has a predominantly inherited basis.” The evidence regarding endocrine abnormalities receives little support at this time. Psychological factors have the greatest weight of evidence in their favour at the present time, and there is much to suggest that the forces at work arise from parental interaction. So in fact there is weighty evidence to the contrary. Another important argument raised against the Bill is that once homosexual acts are legalised for males of the age of 20 and over the pressure will shift to increasingly lowering the age of consent, and that people who favour legalisation in the case of males over 20, but would not accept it in the case of males where the age of consent is 16, had better think very carefully about taking the first step. Judging from trends overseas, it would no doubt be very difficult to restrict the age of consent once the first crucial step towards legalisation has been taken. I oppose the second reading of this Bill.
Mrs BATCHELOR (Avon)—I rise to support the Bill, and I join with others in this Chamber who have commended the member for Egmont for his courage in bringing to our notice a problem that is of concern perhaps to only a small minority group. Nevertheless, we must concern ourselves as much with minorities as we do with majorities. I support the Bill mainly because it gives to consenting adult males the right to privacy in their personal relationship, and I believe every individual should have that right. The Bill will allow them to have their personal relationship without fear of criminal proceedings being taken against them. I do not believe that the Bill will in any way change the attitudes of society to the homosexual. The intolerance of humanity towards those who do not conform will still be there. We seem to surround ourselves with hypocrisy when it comes to our attitudes towards sex, but I hope we will not legislate according to our moral repugnance or otherwise on an issue that affects so many people. It has been suggested by previous speakers that the State cannot be kept out of the bedrooms of the nation, and that if it is kept out, those bedrooms may turn into dens of iniquity. It has been suggested that if murder is committed the State will in fact go into the bedrooms of the nation, but there are many acts that occur between consenting heterosexual people in the privacy of their own bedrooms that would not conform to the standards accepted as normal behaviour. Yet there is no danger of their being exposed to criminal proceedings, and that appears to me to be an injustice. It is also suggested that if this Bill is passed, procreation will go out and zero growth will apply, but I wonder if there really is logic in that. Would the homosexual be more inclined to procreate because homosexuality is illegal by statute, and would it be a good thing if he did? We hear about the importance of the family unit and the need for moral family commitments. Well, can a man provide a good, secure, family environment if his own mental abilities are confused by his sexual leanings because his sexual leanings do not comply with the law? It would seem to imply that the sexual act itself is to be used only for the purpose of procreation. May I ask that we be honest with ourselves. Would there be one person in this Chamber who can say he has never performed that act for a purpose other than procreation? I do not believe the Bill condones or otherwise the act of homosexuality; what it does do is recognise the need to legislate justly and without discrimination, and for that reason it has my support.
Hon. G. F. GAIR (North Shore)— Together with many other members in this Chamber I am presented today with the task of deciding what I must in my conscience do about supporting or rejecting this Bill. I do not doubt that all other members have received a flood of mail— as I have—over the months, and in fact over the years, some of it for, and some of it against. I know that no member has received more mail than my colleague, the member for Egmont, who is the proposer of this measure. Some of that mail has not been rational and reasoned, some of it has been excessive, occasionally abusive, and no member has suffered more in this regard than the member for Egmont. I pay a public tribute to him for the way he has steadfastly held to his resolve and his commitment, and I believe in the fullness of time his act will be seen as an act of legislative bravery which has few precedents in this House. When he introduced this measure last year I supported its introduction, and I said I would support him. I have seen nothing to change my view. I have endeavoured to inform myself of the arguments both for and against the measure which have tumbled over my desk since that time. When I gave my observations on the introduction of the Bill I did not do so lightly. I had spent many months discussing this matter and the principles involved with people both for and against, and I must say I was impressed by the arguments and the dedication of many people who were active in the inner committee of the Homosexual Law Reform Society. There I met prominent churchmen from a number of denominations, doctors of medicine, psychiatry, and letters, leading social workers, lawyers, and other important public figures, and I freely acknowledge that several of them held political persuasions that I could not support. But in this issue of conscience I share their concern and support their cause. The Homosexual Law Reform Society is only one of many bodies supporting the measure before us, but I believe it has been by far the most responsible of the bodies dedicated to this cause. I realise that every cause has supporters who in fact are an embarrassment, and this cause is among those. It is important that we set aside some of the ostentatious and superficial champions and their arguments because they do not help us define the real problem and search for the real answer. In searching for the answer my background studies have taken me to a former Minister of Justice, the late Ralph Hanan. In some respects his legislation could be considered the precursor of the present measure, and he himself a precedent setter for my colleague the member for Egmont. I know that as far back as September 1967 Ralph Hanan, then Minister of Justice, wrote to the secretary of the Homosexual Law Reform Society, at that stage much less known and less supported than it is today. He wrote this on to the record: “I entirely support your object of informing the public fully on this issue of replacing prejudice and emotion by understanding and a rational approach, and temperate discussion and the elucidation of facts cannot fail to be beneficial whether or not your society's paramount object of changing the law meets with early success.” We know that it did not meet with early success. The mood of the 1960s was not then right to accept the change, but I have a feeling that the mood of the 1970s is that society is ready to accept that change. In a number of countries the change has already been made, in some instances quite a number of years ago. This gives us the opportunity to study the degree to which this is or is not a serious problem, which some of the opponents of this measure would have us believe to be the case. England and Wales have taken this step, as has Canada, South Australia, the Australian Capital Territory, a number of American States, and I think the majority of the countries in Northern and Western Europe. What do we find in those places? We do not find the realisation of the dire forebodings of those who fear this step. I imagine that the most dedicated centre of opposition to the proposal quotes biblical authority for the stand it takes. I am somewhat divided and somewhat concerned as to how I should interpret this evidence. I am not a man with particular knowledge of biblical matters, but I do know that, among the supporters of this measure, are a large number of leading churchmen who presumably are well versed in biblical matters. It seems that the churches are divided on this issue, and that some churches are divided within themselves. A list has been presented to every member of the House, I understand, which sets out some of the leading organisations that have seen fit to pass resolutions in support of this step. When we see this list, even just a cross-sampling of the more prominent bodies—prominent in numbers and prominent in their opinion-making capacity—we realise the very widespread level of support the principle of this Bill actually has and the degree to which public thinking has changed. I notice that the list includes such bodies as the Methodist Church, the Associated Churches of Christ, some of the Anglican Diocese, the Presbyterian Church, and the Society of Friends. Among other community bodies who support the measure we have such groups as the Jaycees at a national level, some branches of the National Council of Women, the Council for Civil Liberties, the Howard League for Penal Reform, and the New Zealand University Students Association. Although this is a non-political issue and every member in the House speaks and votes according to his conscience and that alone, it is a fact, and it is worth recording, that remits supporting such a measure have been carried by both the New Zealand Labour Party and the New Zealand National Party. It also happens to be a feature in the Values Party's election manifesto. However, it is not the support or opposition from outside bodies or outside persons which, in a final analysis, must help us make the decision; it is the individual thinking, the individual reaction, the individual judgment, and the individual conscience of 87 members of this Chamber that must do so. That is why I believe so many members have sought to explain not only how they propose to vote but also why they propose to vote in that way. As I have said earlier on another measure, which also involved a conscience vote, I have good friends who have come out very strongly against this measure and I have good friends who have come out very strongly for the measure. I appreciate their sincerity; I understand why they feel as they do. I would like them to know, lest this measure pass the second reading stage and have attached to it in the Committee stage an amendment publicly proposed by the member for Porirua, that I would have to review my support of the Bill if this House should see fit to attach what is known as the Dr Wall amendment to the Bill. It is interesting that, in the history of Western civilisation since the time of the founding of Christianity, there have been only about 100 years in those nineteen and a half centuries or more in which homosexual acts have been a matter of illegality. It seems to me that we should separate the question of morality from that of legality and make clear in our thinking especially the fact that morality and legality are not synonymous. I freely admit that in some respects they are mutually interdependent, but they are in fact different issues. The question of homosexuality is basically a moral matter, a medical matter, and a social matter rather than a legal one. If this argument were not sound, may I ask why is it that homosexual acts between females are not a crime while the law today says that homosexual acts between males are a crime? Every man in public life has some moments when he must make decisions when frequently he would prefer to avoid the necessity for making them. We know that many social and moral issues are not matters of black and white, but are very genuinely questions of grey. If this measure had not been introduced by my colleague the member for Egmont it could well be that this Parliament would have continued to pretend for some years that the issue did not exist, and ignored the matter. Whether we like it or not, the courage of the member for Egmont has thrust this issue before us, and we must decide on it one way or another. We must decide. We cannot see it only in terms of the grey that it probably is; somehow we must refocus our attention in terms of black or white. For myself, I support the Bill. Hon.
Sir ROY JACK (Rangitikei)— I speak in this debate with some distaste. I have never been much interested in the movement for homosexual law reform. Nevertheless I have admired the courage of some of my colleagues, who have been prepared to state their views in the face of obloquy. For that reason I doubt whether my proper course is to retire to the convenient bunker of silence. Throughout the whole of the Christian era, and no doubt long before that, homosexuality has been regarded as immoral and repellent and, whether or not this Bill is passed, I have not the slightest doubt that that position will continue. The criminal law is normally concerned with the protection of the person and the property of citizens against outside intrusion, and the invocation of the criminal law in such a matter as homosexual acts between consenting males is a departure from its normal purpose—a comparatively recent innovation, and, it seems, an unsuccessful innovation. For the whole of the nearly 20 centuries of the Christian era homosexual acts between consenting adult females have not been in breach of the criminal law, and for nearly 19 of the nearly 20 centuries of the Christian era under British law homosexual acts in general between consenting adult males have not been in breach of the criminal law, but towards the end of the last century an alteration was made that strangely, in a novel manner, made homosexuality between adult males unlawful, but left the position as regards adult females as it was. The Bill before the House proposes to leave the law in so far as females are concerned the same as it has been under English criminal law for the last 2,000 years, and broadly to return it to the position that obtained in the first 19 or so centuries of the Christian era so far as consenting adult males are concerned. It has been argued by a number of persons opposing the Bill that it is a move in the direction of what is called the permissive society. I oppose the growth of a permissive society, a structureless society with a fading ethos, but I do not believe that the legislation at present before the House is a move in that direction. Rather, I believe it is an honest move to restore common sense to our criminal law and to remove what is, in my view, a defect imported into that law a century ago. The criminal law as a weapon to deal with the unfortunate, unpleasant deviation of homosexuality is peculiarly ineffective, and there is no indication that imprisonment has cured this deviant state of mind that results in homosexual attitudes. It is also true that the law making it criminal for consenting adult males to commit homosexual acts has been the basis of blackmail. It is true that the fact of homosexuality between consenting adult males being a crime discourages deviant persons from seeking guidance or treatment, and on balance it does seem to me that the provisions of our criminal law in this regard have done more harm than good. It should be noted that under the proposed legislation the existing provisions against indecent assault upon young persons are not altered. It should also be noted that the provisions of our law against male prostitution and procuring are, in fact, strengthened. I support the feelings of the member for Porirua in his revulsion from or his opposition to aggressive proselytising, but I believe that his proposed amendement to this Bill is mistaken in its approach and would make bad law. I support the Bill without enthusiasm because I find the whole topic distasteful, but I support it because I feel the move is justified. This reform is supported over an extraordinarily wide area of the community. Inside the House we find it is supported by the Prime Minister and by the Leader of the Opposition. At least two annual conferences of the Labour Party carried resolutions in favour of the proposed reform and at two annual conferences of the National Party resolutions were carried in favour of it. A select committee of the House heard evidence in favour from a very wide area of the community. It appears that the predominant opinion among the churches is in favour of the reform. The Methodist Church supports it; submissions were made on behalf of the Presbyterian Church in favour of change; and the public questions committee of the General Synod of the Anglican Church favours the Bill before the House. It is true that not all churches support it, and the Roman Catholic Church is predominantly opposed to the change, but there is a division of opinion even within the Catholic Church. Moreover, we find a very wide body of organisations supporting the Bill. The New Zealand Social Workers Association supports it, and the Australian and New Zealand College of Psychologists, the New Zealand Police Association Officers Guild, the New Zealand Student Christian Movement, the New Zealand Sociological Association, the New Zealand Psychological Association; all these bodies support the Bill, as do the New Zealand Probation Officers Association, the New Zealand University Students Association, and a number of others. I agree with their view in favour of the proposed reform, and though I also agree with the feelings of those who view homosexuality as particularly distasteful, I believe that the Bill is right and should be passed.
Hon. D. A. HIGHET (Remuera)—I support the Bill, and I congratulate the member for Egmont on his courage and tenacity in bringing the Bill to this stage. I shall oppose the member for Porirua's amendment as being far too restrictive. In fact, it will endeavour to restrict freedom of speech, freedom of discussion, and freedom of communication. Much as I respect the motives behind the member's amendment, I believe that once again he has gone too far in endeavouring in this case to protect the young. I support the member for Rangitikei when he says that this amendment would make very bad law. Homosexuality is not a simple phenomenon. People become homosexuals for a variety of reasons. Some are corrupted, some are conditioned by parental behaviour, and some may be brought to it by hormonal malfunction, but evidence shows beyond a shadow of doubt that some homosexuals are homosexual by nature. Do not let us get carried away by this Bill. Emotion has no place in this debate. Let us be practical. This Bill does not encourage the practice of homosexual acts. It gives no open slather for homosexual behaviour. What it does do is to remove the stigma of crime from a certain section of law-abiding people, people who in all other aspects of their life stick strictly to the law and find themselves classed as lawbreakers. How we, both men and women in this House, feel individually about homosexuality has no part in this debate. It has no appeal to me, but that will not affect my vote. I shall look at the whole question dispassionately. I shall support the Bill, which will remove from the Police a responsibility to enforce a law which is not approved by the majority of New Zealanders. The Bill does not in any way condone promiscuous homosexuality. The practice of homosexual acts in public will still result in a heavy fine or imprisonment. The Bill is aimed at helping people with homosexual tendencies to live more easily in our society by removing a criminal implication towards an immoral act. I was very interested to hear the member for Kapiti speak. I agree with him that the radical members of the gay liberation group in trying to do good for their cause do more harm than good, but I believe they represent a very small minority. To look upon them as representing the voice of those who support this Bill is like judging the youth of today by the chain-bashing gangs who cause so much disturbance in our community. I am reminded of the clergy from most denominations, the leaders in the legal profession, the leaders in our student movement, the women of standing in the community, and a great number of social workers who support this Bill. As a very poor Presbyterian I will quote the views of my church, as other members have expressed the opinion of theirs. I want to read from the supplementary submissions made by the public questions committee of the Presbyterian Church to the committee that looked into this Bill: “Since the preparation of the initial submission the question of the church's attitude towards homosexuality and homosexual law reform has been before the church's general assembly meeting in Auckland. There is concern within the church at claims that homosexuality be 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. The public questions committee has undertaken a thorough consideration of the whole topic during the current year and expects to bring a detailed report to the next general assembly of the church. At this stage we must acknowledge a considerable diversity of attitude within the church and also, we believe, a considerable measure of misunderstanding as to the nature of homosexuality. A move at the assembly to rescind the church's support for homosexual law reform was heavily defeated, and the church remains committed to supporting law reform to remove from the criminal code homosexual acts in private between consenting adult males.” By that final supplementary submission I believe that the Presbyterian Church is showing its support for this Bill. This is a problem which, in my opinion, cannot be solved by legislation. Any attempt by a male adult to introduce a youth or minor to homosexual activity must be condemned, and I am pleased that the member for Egmont has, in this Bill, increased the penalty for such an offence. The homosexual needs to be treated with compassion and understanding, not treated as a criminal. For that reason I support the Bill.
Hon. B. E. TALBOYS (Deputy Leader of the Opposition)—I was a member of the committee that heard the evidence on this Bill, but such is the nature of the question that I must admit that all the hearing did was to increase the anguish of decision. In fact, I recorded a vote against the Bill at the committee. This is a question on which head and heart are in conflict. I know perfectly well when the decision is made that that will still be so. I have no difficulty with the question of whether homosexual practices, either in private or anywhere else, are normal. As far as I am concerned they are not. Those who argued to the contrary before the committee were undoubtedly expressing their own view of normality, but it is one which I certainly cannot accept. Equally, I have no difficulty with the question of whether such practises are natural. Between women, or between men, they cannot be accepted as natural. Tradition and background leave me with absolutely no difficulty as to whether such practices are immoral. That is as I see it, and the force and power of that sanction will continue whatever change is made in the law. I am quite certain, of course, that changing the law will not change the attitude of society. Society's attitudes do not change simply with a change in the law. The question before us is whether, between males in private, such practices should be a criminal offence punishable, as has been the case on occasions, by imprisonment. Those cases of course are rare, but cases have been brought before the courts. I can really think of nothing less appropriate than sending such people to jail, and yet there seems little likelihood of any counselling services being provided while these activities are criminal. I believe that the need for counselling is real, and I think the interest in providing such services is to be found in some of the organisations and associations that gave evidence to us. So finally I come to the question, do we do any good for an individual or for society with the law as it presently stands? What is its purpose? What are we achieving? It is certain that the law does not prevent people from indulging in these practices. Equally, the law provides, at present at any rate, no system of reform, and so I find myself finally in much the same position as I eventually reached on the question of capital punishment. All my background suggested that we should continue a process of capital punishment; but finally I looked at the law and at what we did and I decided that we had a system that we are pleased to call penal reform; but of course what we did with capital punishment was to destroy the lives of those who were capable of reform and preserve the lives of those who were incapable of it. In this case there is no reformation by sending anybody to jail; and I am not convinced that the law acts as a deterrent. And so, I think quite unwillingly, I come to the conclusion that I must support the change in the law that is proposed here. I have had a great deal of sympathy with the view put forward by the member for Porirua, who expressed concern about proselytising activities. I share that concern, but then, I suppose trying to reach a state of reality, I look at what has happened through the centuries in the case of female homosexuals. We talk of flood gates being opened, but there has been no sanction against female homosexuality during the whole of our history, and we are not aware—certainly I am not—of any great proselytising movement among young females. So I come to the conclusion that what I should do is support the proposed amendment.
Mr SLOANE (Hobson)—I shall not keep the House very long, but I do wish to stand and be counted on this matter. I sincerely admire my parliamentary colleague, the member for Egmont, for the stand he has taken. Previous speakers have mentioned the mail he has received at times and the insults he has had to put up with. Well, I know no finer man in the House than Ven Young, and I do admire the attitude he has adopted in bringing forward this Bill so that Parliament may discuss it. Unlike my colleague the member for Remuera, how I feel about this Bill matters to me, and maybe I could get a little emotional about it. I consider we are going along the wrong road if we ease the law as it stands at present. I have no wish to debate the issue with the member for North Shore, but I could not agree with some of the arguments he put forward. He said the law was changed in Canada, in the NATO countries, in certain States of America, and in Western Australia, and that really there had been no dire results from the new legislation those countries had enacted. I could go on for quite a while proving, to my own satisfaction anyway, that there certainly has not been any advance in the morality of those countries or in the general conduct of their young people. I could quote from evidence given, and will just name one city, Amsterdam. In 1969 the age of consent between males was lowered to 16. I was in Amsterdam in the 1970s, and that area has become notorious for its pimps, sex shops, and drug addicts. We do not want that to happen in New Zealand. Did I hear the member for North Shore correctly that this was not illegal 100 years ago? In England they called it buggery—sodomy, as we might call it. The present provisions of the Crimes Act 1961 can be traced back in a direct line to the English Offences Against a Person Act 1861, which abolished the death penalty for sodomy. That is what they thought of it in that age. However, it does not mean we cannot advance in our outlook, morally and otherwise. Let me quote from a note I received from the Homosexual Law Reform Society: “Now is the time for clear and unemotional thinking, not only by members of our society but also by people throughout the country, by members of Parliament, and the people who elected them.” In the debate we have heard evidence that this is exactly what has happened. I did not have the privilege, as did the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the member for Piako, of sitting on this select committee. Those two Opposition members went into that committee with views other than the ones they have expressed now, and we must admire them for the stand they have taken. It has been said that the churches support the amendment and that the Catholics were divided. I can only say that I have received dozens and dozens of letters from my constituents, not one of whom would support the Bill introduced by the member for Egmont. That is to be expected because I come from a conservative country area. In all honesty I cannot support this Bill. Goodness knows, I have tried to think it out and have spent hours in reading and in discussions with both young and older people, even with my own family; and I might say that perhaps my own family might not go along with my thinking. I have listened to some uninformed and emotional statements, as will always be the case in any discussion on this matter. Months ago I read a statement made by Lord Shawcross. I do not have the quotation with me, but he said, “The great principles of good, or even kindness or cruelty, generosity or selfishness, love or lust, do not change because some confused cleric or committee or noisy banner-waving element demand what I say is a lowering of morals.” I shall quote from what was said in 1965 by a most conservative gentleman, Lord Montgomery. I shall not quote it at length, but he says—and this concerns me—“The first category I take is the boys and the young men in our schools and universities who, I suppose, number some millions, although I would not know the exact figure. What influence in their minds and characters will follow if they know that their masters and tutors are indulging in these unnatural practices and if they know that the law of the land will allow it? What effect will this have on the moral fibre of these boys, some of them quite young and under 21? The practices are illegal and yet, suddenly, on the morning of their 21st birthday they can do what they like and they are legal.” Finally he says: “Far from helping these unnatural practices along, surely our task is to build a bulwark which will defy influences which are seeking to undermine the very foundation of our national character. Defy them. Do not help them.” I have heard some say—and indeed the honourable earl himself said this— that such practices are allowed in France and in NATO countries. We are not French nor other nationals. We are British, thank God. Those are some of the thoughts of Lord Montgomery. It was my intention to read further evidence that came forward, to suit my own case I admit, but I will not weary the House because the subject has been covered amply and I believe the House is ready to vote. Finally, expressed in simple terms, I suggest the issue is this: is this House to give a lead, or is it not, to the New Zealand people by agreeing to a Bill which will have the effect of undermining the moral fibre of the youth of our country? Those are my feelings on the subject.
Right Hon. Sir KEITH HOLYOAKE —“Thank God I am not as other men.” I thought there was one small element of that in the quotation of the honourable member for Hobson. I hope he will excuse my taking that line. The thought of homosexual acts is absolutely abhorrent and repulsive to me; but who am I to judge? I am not going to compliment fulsomely the member for Egmont on his courage, because I wish he would take his jolly old Bill away. I wish we had never heard of it. I also wish the problem would go away. Having said that, I suppose I must join others and compliment him for his courage in bringing forward a Bill that we all wish had not been brought forward and that the problem would simply dissolve and disappear. The problem, however, is there, and from time to time these questions, whether moral, legal, emotional, or whatever they are, will arise and have public common currency and will require to be discussed and settled. I confess openly that 2 years ago— perhaps even 1 year ago—I would have voted against such a proposition as this; today I will vote for it. Seeing that homosexual acts are obnoxious to me, as they must be to the great majority of us, then my natural instinct is to vote against any change in the law. The natural thing to do is to lash out against the law or any proposal to change the law if we do not like the context of the subject that is dealt with. This is a natural emotional reaction, but we must use more than that. We must use judgment and whatever logic we have. At this stage of the debate I will not go over all—indeed, I will go over very few—of the arguments adduced for and against by other members except to say I am not convinced that the present sanctions in the
Crimes Amendment Bill Crimes Amendment Bill 2819 4 July law have achieved very much. I will not say they have not achieved anything, but I do not think they have achieved enough on balance to warrant their continuation. The member for Rodney quoted a lot of figures of convictions under the law and the kind of penalties that have been imposed. I am sorry I did not listen closely enough to him before he came to that passage in his speech, and I have to ask him whether I am correct when I say I imagine he was dealing with all the offences under those headings, and not with the offences in the narrow range with which this Bill deals—that is, homosexual acts between consenting adults in private. After all, this law does not alter all the rest. It would be interesting, if he had the figures—and I presume he had—to know how many cases have been brought that would be affected by this amendment to the law.
Mr Wilkinson—From the actually received?
Right Hon. Sir KEITH HOLYOAKE —For all kinds of homosexual acts, and not just those in the very narrow range we are dealing with in this proposed amendment. What is the difference? The member for Rodney quoted figures to prove why we should not carry this amendment. He was quoting figures that have nothing whatever to do with the amendment, or only to a very small extent.
Mr Wilkinson—Very few people have gone to jail for homosexual offences.
Right Hon. Sir KEITH HOLYOAKE —Because the acts are performed in private not many are detectable, although some are. I thought the figures were misleading in that the member quoted a wider field of homosexual acts committed against the law and how the court had treated them. It was an interesting comment, but I feel it was mainly, although not wholly, irrelevant to this proposed amendment. It has been mentioned by other members that the very nature of the homosexual acts we are discussing—homosexual acts committed by consenting males in private—means that not many are detected and come number before the court. For that reason the existing law has very little application and is virtually ineffectual. I want to speak very briefly about the main points that have determined me to vote in favour of the law. As I have said so often before, I believe there should be no difference under the law in the treatment of males and females. However, that has been dealt with at great length and I say no more about it. Secondly, I asked myself, is the present law preventing or deterring homosexual acts between males? No one can prove this, but I should think to some extent, although very minor. I should have thought the advantage here would have been so minimal that it would not weigh heavily, with me at least, against the disadvantages under the existing law. Would the proposed amendment tend to increase the number of homosexual acts between adult males? From what I have learned and heard, I doubt it. If it did, it would have only a minimal effect; and indeed, we could not prove that this was so. I am certainly not convinced that the floodgates would be opened. Indeed, I am utterly convinced that the argument is wrong. I am impressed also by the statement of the member for Egmont, verified by some other members of the select committee which took evidence, that every person, every organisation, and every church giving evidence to the committee was asked this specific question, although perhaps not in the exact words: if the existing law was as now proposed in this amending Bill, would you crusade to change it to what the law is at present? The member for Egmont and others confirmed that, after proper thought and consideration, all the church representatives said, “No, we would not ask for the law to be changed to what it is at present.” I think there was one exception, a small evangelical, crusading section of the Anglican Church. I think that is the heart of the centre core of the whole question. Is the existing law an anachronism? Are we, or are some people, clinging to it simply because it is there? If it were not there, as it is not for females, would there be a crusade today to allow what is an existing sanction under our law? I am certain there would not be a widespread crusade. If there were a crusade, it would be very minor. This, to me, is a very important aspect of the whole question. I am also influenced by experiences I have had in public life, in offices I have held in this House and in this country, of people in quite high places who exercised considerable responsibility and judgment, and indeed influence, but who were homosexuals or homosexually inclined and were subjected to blackmail and mental torture as a result of all that stems from it, and of the way it affected their whole lives, their relationships with their families and indeed with other people.
Hon. David Thomson—The police have no knowledge of such cases.
Right Hon. Sir KEITH HOLYOAKE —The police have no knowledge that what I say is correct?
Hon. R. J. Tizard—Don’t let him confuse you.
Right Hon. Sir KEITH HOLYOAKE —I accept what the member for Stratford says. All I am saying is that I have personal knowledge of it and of the mental and spiritual torture that those people went through, and which those who are still alive are, I suppose, still going through. I am not saying that they should not have some mental torture because as I say, and said at the outset—and I am still of the same opinion—homosexual acts between males, and females for that matter, are abhorrent to me. To me they are obnoxious, unnatural, and abnormal. I suppose for anybody experiencing this for whatever reason, whether he was born with these tendencies or acquired them, or whether they are forced upon him through his environment, it is a natural thing, but he will still suffer some mental torture and pay some price. The experiences I have had in the positions I have held convince me that these people suffered too great a penalty. This is something on which one can use only one's own judgment, as one person observing another. What penalty should they pay? I believe that in the cases I knew of and know of, these people suffered too great a penalty, too great a mental and spiritual torture, because of the fear of discovery, the fear of publication, and of the exercise of the penalties in the law as it is today. That again, and perhaps more than anything else, has persuaded me to vote in favour of the amendment. I repeat that 2 years ago, perhaps 1 year ago, it would have been difficult to convince me to support the amendment, but today I do support it.
Mr BIRCH (Franklin)—Like other members from both sides of this House, I have had very considerable difficulty in deciding whether I should support or oppose the private member's Bill of my colleague, the member for Egmont. Like him, I have considerable compassion for the problems of homosexuals—problems which homosexuals and many others, including many highly qualified people, believe are centred on the intrusion of the statutes into moral issues. In an effort to understand the Bill, and how the Crimes Act created additional pressures on people with homosexual tendencies, I joined the member for Egmont in a number of early discussions with the Homosexual Law Reform Society. Like others at those discussions, I was very impressed with the ability and quality of the people who supported homosexual law reform. But this is not an issue on which one can or should look at the law solely through the eyes of those directly involved. One must rather consider one's own conscience, and the effect on society of changing the law. I have found after very long consideration that I cannot accept homosexual behaviour as, normal, nor would I wish to take part in any action that would be seen to condone, encourage, or even passively accept homosexual practice. It is for that reason that I find myself unable to support the Bill. I believe that to support the Bill would be seen as condoning, even though passively, homosexual behaviour. So it is with much regret that I am unable to support the member for Egmont. I also greatly regret that there is this anomaly in the law whereby action by female homosexuals in private is seen to be and is within the law, while action by male homosexuals in private is outside the law. I take the point made by the member for Egmont and many others that if one is not able to support this Bill, should one not be promoting a law or an amendment to bring female homosexuals within the Crimes Act as well. I would answer the member for Egmont in this way: I am not satisfied, until society is prepared to provide more positive assistance to people who practise homosexual behaviour, and until society is prepared to concentrate more of its resources on a study of the inherent influences which bring about homosexuality and is prepared to do more in these important fields, that this law should be changed. I also make the point that the law falls unevenly on sections of society. All of us, even in this House, are capable of criminal action. We are discouraged from taking part in criminal actions by the fact that in doing so we would lose the respect of our families and our fellow men, and we are discouraged by the punishment itself. But the greatest deterrent of all is that in moving outside accepted standards we transgress the norms of society—the accepted behavioural standards set up and adopted by society itself. I fully appreciate that tendencies to act outside normally accepted standards also fall unevenly. Some peculiarity of chemistry, background, or early childhood environment makes it more difficult for some than for others. I fully appreciate that. However, the attitudes of the community and its leaders and, most important, the attitude of Parliament itself, are vital to the standards accepted by society at large. It seems to me on balance, therefore, that any action seen to condone or accept homosexuality can have considerable influence on the views of society at large. It is for that reason that I am unable to support the member for Egmont in his efforts to have the Bill accepted and the law changed. It would be much better, I believe, for society to work hard in devoting more resources to an attempt to understand the influences which bring about homosexual behaviour; much better to devote our efforts to correcting something which the House, I believe, has agreed is not a normal human situation. I regret, therefore, that I will be voting against the Bill.
Mr DOWNIE (Pakuranga)—I join with my colleagues in congratulating the member for Egmont on bringing this Bill before the House. I think we all know it has taken a great deal of courage to do this, because this subject is in an area of debate in which it is difficult to see the clear lines of action which will follow the results of this Bill. We are all aware of the degree of concern expressed by all people throughout the country on this matter. I think it is equally true to say that we have no evidence to suggest that the amendment to the law in other countries has brought about any lessening of the promiscuity which has been and is causing considerable concern. I believe it is right and proper that this topic should be discussed in this House, as there is increasing controversy on the subject of homosexual behaviour. The anomalies in the legislation between male and female homosexuals have been pointed out very clearly to us in this debate. It would also be true to say that the introduction of legislation to deal with female homosexual behaviour would not in any way improve the situation for males. The likelihood of reducing the obnoxious activities of a number of groups would not be lessened by the passing of such legislation. Over a number of years, and particularly recently, I have heard many arguments for changing the law in relation to homosexual acts, but while the arguments were very convincing and logical, they were to a great degree academic and largely ignored the very offensive behaviour which undoubtedly causes considerable concern in the community. It is true that one of the difficulties with which we are confronted is that people are able to obtain a driving licence at 15 years of age. It is unlawful to drive under the age of 15, but it is acceptable above that age. Likewise, we have laws relating to drinking and voting. Now we are saying that we will make certain acts acceptable above a specified age, and unacceptable below it. This is one of the difficulties I face in making a decision in regard to a change in this legislation; I fully appreciate that an anomaly exists in the law. It is equally true, as has been pointed out by the member for Rodney, that there is no mandatory sentence attached to this Bill. In other words, there is no imprisonment involved. Much has been made of that side of the argument, but sufficient reason for changing the law has not been proved. If we change the law we must be extremely careful. It has been pointed out that in this Bill everything relates to a magic age. It appears that we do not consider that people above that age could be seriously influenced, but I suggest that they could be, and that generally the result would be a serious lowering of moral standards. I think a great disservice has been done to this cause by the Gay Liberation movement and some of its publications. I do not believe anyone in this House would condone the material that has been put out. I am speaking here about a publication issued from some of the branches, and particularly about one extremely offensive article emanating from Christchurch earlier this year. It was written by a self-confessed practising homosexual. He was glorifying the acts of the Arabs, and even went so far as to state that those on whom this act had been performed were changed psychologically as a result of it. I am quite certain that a lot of very serious and careful thought should be given in this area before we make a move to change the legislation. The agitation for a change in the law has been going on for many years, but it has been noticeable recently that groups have been parading the streets and putting out an increasing volume of literature in defence of their case. I think this is having an effect on the public the reverse of what is intended. I do believe that a change can be made to the law, but I have not been convinced by the arguments that this Bill and the suggested amendment would provide the criteria that would be required to make a change that would be in the interests of society. For this reason I find it impossible to support this Bill. While recognising the difficulties and individual problems that are associated with it, I feel that this Bill in its present form will not do what is claimed for it.
Mr BOLGER (King Country)—I rise late in the debate to speak briefly on the Bill. Like my colleague the member for Franklin, I was involved early in the discussions between the member for Egmont and those who sought a reform of the law. I listened with great interest to the submissions they placed before us and to the arguments they advanced. I must confess that they were unable to indicate to us where the operation of the present law was repressive, or in any way harsh on those who had a natural inclination towards homosexual acts. I state quite clearly that although I understand and sympathise with the intentions of this Bill I will not be voting for its second reading. The reasons advanced in favour of the Bill fall broadly into three main categories. The first is compassion, a very laudable sentiment. It is claimed, secondly, that the law as at present written cannot be enforced, and, thirdly, that it permits ostracism or blackmail of a person so inclined. Let us briefly look at these three arguments. I submit that many sectors of society require compassion, but they all come under the same general law. We have in our society those who are much more prone than others to violent acts, yet they are governed by the general legislation on violence. It is said that the law cannot be enforced, but many laws are extremely difficult of enforcement. The simple law on theft is probably enforced only about 50 percent of the time but there is no suggestion that we should alter that law or any other law because it is difficult to enforce. Let us look at the question of blackmail. Unless society's attitudes towards homosexual acts alter, the possibility of blackmail will not be removed by the passage of the legislation we are presently debating. Those who have spoken in favour of the Bill have advanced the argument that they do not consider homosexual acts to be natural. They have said they are totally opposed to perverting the young and to lowering the general standards of society. I submit that there is some inconsistency there, because we exclude from the ramifications of this Bill—and I waited to hear an explanation of this— the police and those who are in the armed forces. The passage of this Bill, then, would create another anomaly in that policemen and servicemen, because they are excluded from its provisions, are considered to be more susceptible to homosexual acts.
Hon. L. W. Gandar—They come under a different Act.
Mr BOLGER—But they are still not permitted to engage in homosexual activities in private. Probably no groups would be more mature in their outlook than those two, and I invite someone to advance reasons why it was considered desirable to exclude them from this legislation. Another question that was discussed in the committee, and has also been raised in this House, is the definition of an adult. The Bill as originally introduced accepted the old standard of an adult, a person 21 years of age or over. The age in the Bill has now been lowered to 20 years, but there is considerable agitation by those who support reform of the law to lower the age substantially below 20 years. The argument is advanced that heterosexual activity is permitted at the age of 16 and that one is permitted to vote at 18, and so the restriction of homosexual activity to persons 20 years of age and older is repressive. Probably the strongest argument advanced in favour of a lower age was in the submissions of the public questions committee of the Methodist Church, which said: “There is justification for reducing this age to 18 years, or alternatively to 16 years. In support of reducing the age to 16 years in the proposed amendment, it is noted that a girl of 16 years may consent to carnal knowledge with a man. It is difficult to find reasons that will permit such a girl to make a decision concerning her sexual conduct with either a male or a female, but yet deny the same right and responsibility to a 16-year-old male.” So there are strong arguments to reduce the age to 16, because that is the age of consent for heterosexuals. But we must take this question one step further. There is strong support in the community for lowering the age at which contraceptive advice and paraphernalia can be supplied to young girls, and if we supply these to young girls it is logical that we will have to lower the age of consent below 16. Therefore we can advance the argument that was advanced before, and say we would have to lower the age of consent for homosexuals to a similar lower age. The Bill has retained the age of 20 years because the member for Egmont wanted to be sure that a person had this strong and permanent orientation towards homosexual activities, and that those of a younger age should not be attracted temporarily to, and then finally committed to, this type of sexual activity. But I think that if we pass this Bill we will again be asked to reduce the age within the next few years, and continue on a downward scale. I have mentioned the question of the armed forces, a single group of males, but we are faced not only with the Army and the Police. If we lower the age of consent we run into the additional problem of our single-sex schools, which would then be placed in the same position. Would we exclude those from future legislation? The Bill, intended to correct a situation that is frankly untidy, would produce a situation that could be equally untidy. I do not believe that the present situation is a perfect solution, because I do not believe there is a perfect solution. What we have to ask ourselves is whether the alternative proposed in this Bill would improve the situation or not, and in my submission it would not. There has been some discussion on the question of morality and its relationship to the law. There is some conflict here, but Western societies' laws are historically based on traditional morality, and that, I think, is a statement of fact. Let us consider what other guide we can use on which to base our laws. If we do not have this base for our laws, what will we substitute for it? I know that views differ as to where a moral stand should be taken, but I do not believe it is accurate to say that morality has no place in the drafting of laws. Morality has always been a guideline; it has always established some degree of parameters of the area under discussion, and has always provided lawmakers with guidance, if not with direct solutions to the problem of writing laws. Some have said that putting the homosexual in prison does not solve his problem. I do not disagree with that, but on those very rare occasions when a homosexual is brought before the courts the law does not automatically have to send him to prison. Many other arrangements are available, and I suggest, on the evidence and on the discussions I had before this Bill was brought into the House, that very few homosexuals are in jail for the sole reason that they are practising homosexuals. Another point which should be clarified is that there is no law against having homosexual inclinations, just as there is no law against being hottempered or light-fingered. There is a law against violence when one actively participates in violence, and there is a law against being light-fingered if you steal something. So, too, there is a law against homosexual activities when one takes part in them, but the condition of being a homosexual is not against the law. For these reasons and others I shall be voting against the second reading of this Bill.
Hon. J. A. WALDING (Minister of Overseas Trade)—This question has been traversed extensively and there is nothing much to add, but I intend to support the second reading because I believe the present law is illogical, unfair, and unenforceable. It is illogical and unfair because it discriminates between men and women; it is unenforceable if the State is not to have easy access to the bedrooms of the nation. Once we give the State the right to determine what are natural acts and what are unnatural acts, we create a dangerous precedent. The State should not become involved in such issues. I accept that some people, no matter what their sexual inclinations, have no way whatsoever of changing them, any more than they can change the colour of their eyes from blue to brown. I also accept that these people in the past have been subject to a great deal of misery, intimidation, and blackmail, and that is undesirable. I also support the proposition put forward by the member for Porirua that there should be some restraint on the activities of those who seek to advocate a different life style. I believe those extremists do their cause a disservice. People with bisexual tendencies can be influenced if they are exposed at an early age to homosexual practices, and that can cause untold harm in years to come. While I cannot accept the amendment proposed by the member for Porirua, I should still like the opportunity of examining the position to ascertain whether or not some other such improvement can be made to the Bill. I can well remember my own early days at sea, when I learned that homosexual activities take place, and that many young people are influenced in a way they should not be. No matter what the law is, I think the social stigma of homosexuality will remain, and that is the most powerful influence against the type of activity with which the measure before us is concerned. However, I say again that the present law is illogical and unenforceable, and I intend to support the further progress of this Bill.
Mr COMBER (Wellington Central)— During the 1972 election campaign I was asked on a public platform to state my views on homosexuality, as I have no doubt most parliamentary candidates were. I gave an honest answer: that I was not fully enough informed on the ramifications of any proposed change in the law to be able to state categorically my views on the issue. However, I gave my pledge to the people of my electorate in 1972 that I would apprise myself of the background and the ramifications of any proposed change, and this I have done. There has been a lot of talk about the Brian Edwards' television programme in which the whole practice of homosexuality was openly discussed. While moving around in my electorate in the week following that programme, I met and had a very forthright discussion with one of the several participants. I must confess that as a result of all that and other discussions, and the welter of paper and submissions I received during the debate, I have been torn in two directions. I have been asking myself whether the law as at present written and, more importantly, interpreted by the authorities is oppressive and unfair to practising homosexuals. I think four points emerge, which I shall mention briefly. Every Parliament in every country legislates in some way on morals. Under the existing law no homosexual has to go to jail. There is no mandatory jail sentence, although conceivably, as the law stands now, a maximum jail sentence can be imposed. I believe that if we remove the legal sanction against adult homosexuality the social stigma will remain, and that view was confirmed by the Minister of Overseas Trade just a few minutes ago. The Bill will not mean that there is more acceptance of homosexuals. As other members have said, it is possible that if this measure is passed public pressure will again be brought on Parliament within a year, or 2 years or 5 years, to reduce the age of consent to 18, 16, and so on. I also ask whether a change in the law will lead to a more overt aggressiveness by homosexuals. We can only speculate on that point, but I believe that if any member is in doubt about it he should vote against the Bill. Any enactment by this Parliament to change the law must be seen, rightly or wrongly, as condoning the act of homosexuality. I know that is not the intent of the Bill, and it is certainly not the intent of the member for Egmont, but I repeat that, rightly or wrongly, it will be seen by the public as condoning the homosexual act to some degree. I agree that the State has no place in the bedrooms of the country, but we are debating an issue which goes far beyond that. I do not believe that the proposed amendment will remove the threat of blackmail, which is abhorred by all members of the House. Indeed, I think almost everyone who has spoken either in favour of or against the Bill has made passing reference to that factor. No one has yet convinced me or made any strong attempt to indicate that homosexual behaviour is normal or natural. It is true that many males are born with strong homosexual traits. I accept that, but I ask myself whether we, as a Parliament, should encourage or condone a move towards acceptance of homosexuality and, in so doing, give people who are torn between homosexuality and heterosexuality the easy way, as it were, to adopt the homosexual trait. I do not believe it is the role, or indeed the duty, of Parliament to do such a thing. I am very sympathetic to males who find they have strong homosexual characteristics, and I do not say that in a patronising manner. I believe that a certain number of these people can be counselled and helped through what is often a very difficult time for them. The home environment has been mentioned in earlier debates and I will not elaborate on it, but I know that that does not cover the whole problem. I repeat that I have weighed up in my own conscience all the views that have been expressed over the last 24 years since I promised the people of my electorate that I would look very closely at the ramifications of change. I am finally swayed by the fact that under the law as it is written and interpreted now there is no mandatory jail sentence which could or is likely to be imposed by the courts. I am also guided by the fact that the passage of this Bill would not change the social stigma attaching to homosexuals. After taking all these considerations into account without malice, or heat, or antagonism to any person, I will vote against the second reading of this Bill.
Right Hon. Sir JOHN MARSHALL (Karori)—I want to say simply and directly at the beginning that I am opposed to legalising homosexual behaviour. In my view it is an unnatural act, and I do not see any way in which it could reasonably be claimed to be otherwise. The human body is made for sexual relations between a man and a woman, and not between a man and another man.
Mr V. S. Young—Or a woman with another woman.
Right Hon. Sir JOHN MARSHALL– Yes, or a woman with another woman. To me, that seems to mean that homosexual behaviour, whether between two men or two women, is a perversion. To me, it is not only unnatural but repulsive. I know there are some who do not share that view. I think a distinction should be made very clearly between homosexual tendencies, which some people unfortunately have, and homosexual behaviour. I believe that a number of people who are homosexuals live with the problem and keep it to themselves. For them there is no condemnation, but there should be understanding and commendation for the restraint they show. There is nothing illegal or immoral in being a homosexual. What most people—and, as far as I can gather, all members of the House—regard as immoral is the performing of sexual acts with persons of the same sex, and that is what this Bill is about. The question is whether this kind of immoral behaviour should also be illegal. Those favouring the legislation of homosexual behaviour, as proposed in this Bill, say that the law should not be used to enforce moral standards. Well, of course, the law does not enforce all moral rules—most of the seven deadly sins are moral rules which are not enforced by legislation—but there is no doubt that the criminal law has a moral basis. The immoral nature of homosexual behaviour at least is an element in the criminal offence. I would agree that if homosexual behaviour were only a moral issue, if homosexual behaviour between two people of the same sex had no other consequence, it might be left as a matter of morality only, but in my view homosexual behaviour raises more than moral issues. I believe it has social and public consequences which ought to be the concern of the community and the responsibility of the State. I believe it is a responsibility of the State—I am not talking now about the Government but of the community as a whole—to be concerned about the preservation and the protection of the family. The maintenance of family life is important for the stability and happiness of our community and I am therefore concerned that a form of conduct which in my view is incompatible with the preservation of family life might be legalised. As I have said, I believe there are people who have homosexual tendencies but do not give way to them. There are others who might go either way—who might become addicted to homosexual behaviour or who might develop as normal people and have normal sexual relationships. If homosexual behaviour were legalised as this Bill proposes, it would cease to have the restraint of the law. To the extent that it then became more widely practised, it would, in my view, tend to undermine what might otherwise have been a normal family relationship. For the same reason, the legalising of homosexual behaviour would strike at a fundamental responsibility of the State, as I see it, to protect the community from the spread of practices which are unnatural, which are a perversion, and which, if they were to spread, would threaten the future of the race. In my view the spreading of this unnatural perversion has in it the seeds of national degeneration. Speakers in this debate have commented that in Britain and a number of other countries homosexual behaviour between consenting males in private has been legalised, and they have claimed that this has been done without apparent harm. I wish I could feel that was so, but I do not think the present social and economic conditions in Britain, to name only one country, provide a model for New Zealand to follow. It is sad that this should be so—it is very sad for those who have a great affection for Britain—but the plain fact is that a malaise has come upon that once great country. There is a general permissiveness, a lack of discipline and self-control, which I would not like to see encouraged in this country. The attitude to homosexual behaviour in Britain, of course, is just a small facet of that general malaise, but I want to have no part of it. It has been claimed in this debate, and I believe wrongly, that the law as it now stands is not enforced and not enforceable. It is true that the police do not invade private places where these offences are likely to be performed, and I certainly would not support that kind of intrusion; but when the police do have evidence of these offences, proceedings are taken in the ordinary course of the administration of the law. This is common enough in the administration of laws of this kind and is not a reason for repealing them. There is some evidence that wife beating still goes on to some extent in this country, and occasionally a husband is brought before the court for assaulting his wife, but the fact that very few such cases come to the notice of the police, even though they may be more prevalent, is not an argument for legalising wife beating. Similarly, the fact that there are very few prosecutions for homosexual behaviour is not a case for repealing the law. I would concede that imprisonment is not normally an appropriate punishment, but that is not the only deterrent available to the law. I would certainly favour a reform, if it is necessary to amend the law, to provide for other forms of punishment—for periodic detention, for fines, for probation, or for requirements as to treatment. I believe that that can, in any case, be done now. The final comment I make is that I hope that if this Bill does get to the Committee stage the amendment proposed by the member for Porirua will not be accepted. It seems to me that this—and I do not propose to debate its merits—would be a very retrograde step. For these reasons I am not prepared to support this Bill.
Mr V. S. YOUNG (Egmont)—I want to thank all members who have taken part in this debate. I have an understanding for and with those who have struggled with their consciences before deciding how they would speak and vote on this measure. I hope we have all been able to think past an instinct we have within us, and to consider the plight of people whose feelings we do not feel and whose problem it is not easy for us to comprehend. Naturally, I thank those who have indicated their support for my Bill, and particularly those who have stood in this House and acknowledged that over the course of the years they have changed their opinions. This is never an easy thing to do. I also understand those who have spoken against the proposals of the Bill because of a deep religious conviction, yet I know there are many others with an equally deep religious conviction who strongly favour the measure. One cannot help but be persuaded by the support from a wide section of the established churches for the provisions in my Bill. There has been some suggestion—one particularly from my colleague the member for Rodney—that we should not really change, or even propose to change the law because there is no one in prison for homosexuality at the present time. I can only refer him to a portion of the submission made by the New Zealand Association of Probation Officers to the select committee: “Arrest, trial, and sentence for a homosexual who is otherwise a law-abiding citizen can be devastating. Career opportunities may be destroyed, purpose and goal in life may be lost, and satisfactory adjustment and a worthwhile contribution to society can become more difficult.” It may be argued that adult persons who engage in homosexual activities in private are not at risk of prosecution. The probation officers say this: “In our experience this is not always so. There also remains for the persons concerned a knowledge that the law has been broken, a constant fear of detection, and the possibility of various forms of extortion.” I do not propose to attribute to specific members arguments in opposition to the Bill, but I do find it difficult to understand the opinion of members whose inflexibility has required them to argue on matters not contained or even implied in the measure. The matter of the age of consent was argued on the basis of “Next it will be 18 years, then it may be 16, then it may be 14, then it may disappear altogether.” Members who use this argument know full well that a number of submissions were made to the select committee advocating provision for a lower age of consent in clause 2. Despite this, the consensus of the committee was that the age of consent should be 20. Some who have argued against the Bill have equated legality with morality, as indeed did the member for Karori, who immediately preceded me in this debate. There have been other criticisms about the definition of “in private” and, from the member for Tauranga, criticism of the definition of “a place of resort”. Those definitions are not in the Bill, having been removed by the amendments, but I make the point, as I have done time and time again, that essentially we distinguish between what is legal and what is moral. Those who oppose the Bill have three main arguments. First, it is said, society needs a moral code; any breach of this code weakens society even when no harm accompanies the breach; therefore the law should enforce this moral code. But surely this can apply only when everyone shares the same code of morality. Today our society is very heterogeneous. There are various views on morality, and I am sure a majority of New Zealanders support a change in the law. In any case, how does one judge in a law what is moral? Secondly, it is said that punishing the homosexual demonstrates society's condemnation of the act. Punishment is usually held to be either retribution or deterrent; that is, it does something to the individual to make him atone for what he has done, or it prevents others from doing the same thing. In fact, the present law does so in only a few cases, and consequently there are few prosecutions. Therefore it is reasonable to assume that society as a whole cannot feel strongly about the need for punishment. Another point of view suggests that if society's laws do not condemn acts, then they must be taken to condone them. That is simply not correct. A tremendous amount of psychological research has shown that people do not necessarily associate what is morally wrong with what is illegal, and that people would not feel that a repeal of the law weakened moral sanctions. Thirdly, there are those who state that the law, though ineffective, is a way of showing society's condemnation, and that repeal would weaken moral condemnation and lead to a change of morality and an increase in permissiveness. I believe this is completely incorrect. People have a very clear idea of what is morally wrong. At the same time they have a very unclear idea of what is against the law. Let me ask this question: what good is there in having a law against homosexuality if the law cannot stop homosexual behaviour? Sending people to prison will not stop them either. There is no point in suggesting that although the penalty is not imposed the law should not be altered. It is our responsibility as legislators to ensure that penalties fit the crimes and that those penalties are applied. Unless the law is more readily enforced than it is at present, fear of being caught will not stop anyone either. In fact, legal enforcement of morality by punishment may be a bad thing. There is a grave danger that the moral sense may wither away and leave only a fear of punishment. To have people conforming through fear and not through belief is not the solution sought even by those who oppose this measure. Everyone has the right to moral views and the right to persuade or educate others to know what is morally right. But the law does not do this, nor should it have this responsibility. Let me repeat my invitation to those members who have argued that the laws and the morals are indivisible. If they consider that lesbian acts are immoral— and I believe that they would hold this point of view—let one of them introduce a Bill making this so. Similarly, if those opposed to the reform in my measure insist that the present law is a bastion for morality, then it is their responsibility to see that the present law is enforced, otherwise their case has no logic. My amendment to the Crimes Act is proposed on the bases of humanity, logic, and equality. I believe New Zealand is a country where these values are held high. I conclude my summary by repeating what I said in my introductory speech. There are times and countries in which humanity becomes lost in laws inherited from the past. Equality, compassion, and logic each demand that parliaments alter such laws.
The House divided on the question, That this Bill be now read a second time.
Ayes 29 Batchelor; Davey; Douglas, N. V.; Douglas, R. O.; Freer; Gair; Gandar; Gordon; Highet; Holyoake; Hunt; Jack; King; Luxton; Mar- shall, C. R.; Mayson; Moore; Moyle; O'Brien; Rata; Ridley; Rogers; Rowling; Smith; Tal; Walding; Wall. Tellers: Bassett; Young, . S. Noes 34 Adams-Schneider; Allen, K. R.; Barclay, R. M.; Begg; Birch; Bolger; Brooks; Carter; Christie; Colman; Comber; Connelly; Downie; Drayton; Fraser; Gill; Harrison; Holland; Laney; MacDonell; McLachlan; McMillan; Marshall, J. R.; May; Reweti; Sloane; Talbot; Walker; Wilkinson; Williams; Young, T. J.; Young, W. L. Tellers: Thomson; Kirk. Majority against, 5. ‘Motion negatived. The House adjourned at 12.57 p.m.
Note: audio from the end of the second reading debate can be heard here.