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Second reading debate

Audio from parts of the debate during the second reading of the Homosexual Law Reform Bill, 9 October 1985 (part 1 of 2).

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A more detailed log of this recording is available on the LAGANZ website, see pages 0214-AB and 0215-A.

  • 0:00:00 - Fran Wilde   (Wellington Central, Labour Party)
  • 0:18:40 - Venn Young   (Waitotara, National Party)
  • 0:23:50 - Geoff Braybrooke   (Napier, Labour Party)
  • 0:29:13 - [cassette ends; recording stops abruptly]
  • 0:39:50 - Robert Muldoon   (Tamaki, National Party)
  • 0:47:05 - Margaret Shields   (Kapiti, Labour Party)


The recording from the debate on the Homosexual Law Reform Bill from 9 October 1985, held in the Parliament buildings in Wellington, features contributions from significant political figures of that time, including Fran Wilde, Geoff Braybrooke, Margaret Shields, Robert Muldoon, and Venn Young. This debate represents a pivotal moment in New Zealand's quest for social justice and equality regarding the legal status and treatment of the homosexual community.

Fran Wilde, in favor of the bill, opened the debate by highlighting the prevalence of misrepresented facts and emotional rhetoric surrounding the topic of homosexuality. Wilde discussed the immense societal pressure and hatred faced by the LGBTQ+ community and their allies. Wilde emphasized the need for factual information to counteract myths and misunderstandings, particularly those presented to the select committee. Wilde refuted arguments that foresaw societal decay as a result of decriminalization, using international examples where such changes had already been made without negative repercussions. Emphasizing the importance of recognizing homosexuality as a psychosexual variant rather than a disease, Wilde addressed concerns about homosexual conversion, criticizing the so-called "ex-gay" movement and sources of misinformation.

The bill's opponents expressed their concerns during the debate. Some members of the opposition party spoke about their beliefs regarding the criminal and moral issues tied to the existing laws and the proposed changes. The debate touched on the topic of age of consent, drawing parallels between the rights and maturity of heterosexual and homosexual individuals at the age of 16. Opinions were also voiced about the misrepresentation of the public opinion on this issue, as a petition against the bill reportedly containing 800,000 signatures was believed by some to not reflect an informed, considered, and freely offered expression of the adult community.

Margaret Shields spoke from the government's side, sharing results from a referendum conducted in their electorate, which showed a majority in favor of decriminalizing homosexual behavior, although the results varied on the age of consent. Furthermore, Shields argued that the retention of criminal sanctions against homosexuals did not serve a positive purpose and that sexual orientation is not a choice but an innate characteristic. They underscored the societal implications and damage caused by forcing homosexuals into heterosexual norms and emphasized the importance of acceptance and self-knowledge for personal happiness.

The recording captured a debate that was at times emotional, divisive, and fraught with differing perceptions of societal norms and values. The conversation touched on complex issues such as the influence of legal acceptance on social behavior, the impact on family structures, and the relationship between law and public morality. The debate collectively grappled with the pressing need for law reform amidst a society that was deeply divided on the issue of homosexual rights and recognition.

This summary is created using Generative AI. Although it is based on the recording's transcription, it may contain errors or omissions. Click here to learn more about how this summary was created.

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Record date:9th October 1985
Audio courtesy of:Lesbian and Gay Archives of New Zealand (LAGANZ)
Location:Parliament buildings, Wellington
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