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Tighe Instone

In this podcast Tighe talks about being part of various groups that rallied in support of homosexual law reform.

A selection of David Hindley's images to do with law reform (and featuring Tighe) can be viewed here.

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This podcast was made possible through generous support from the Rule Foundation


The recorded interview featuring Tighe Instone discusses their involvement in the push for homosexual law reform in Aotearoa New Zealand during the 1980s. The Homosexual Law Reform Act of 1986 was a significant legislative change that decriminalized consensual sex between men over the age of 16. Instone's participation was a result of the personal impact witnessing friends suffer under the prevailing laws had on them, inspiring a commitment to activism.

Instone details the secretive initial stages of the reform bill's introduction in March 1985, led by parliament member Fran Wilde, to avoid alerting potential opposition. Instone attended a meeting for the lesbian coalition, a group that represented diverse reactions within the lesbian community towards the bill. Opinions ranged from disinterest to the view that lesbians were better off as "outlaws," while others felt the reform would benefit gay men disproportionately. Nonetheless, Instone and others resolved to be liaisons between the lesbian coalition and the wider reform effort.

As the movement grew, several groups such as the Coalition in Support of the Homosexual Law Reform Bill and the Campaign for Homosexual Equality galvanized support for the bill. Public opposition, particularly from Members of Parliament and powerful figures like Keith Hay and Peter Tait, invoked significant resistance, attempting to rally public sentiment against the reform by garnering a million signatures.

Instone recalls vividly the dynamism of the era, marked by rallies, protests, and intense activism. They remember the thriving LGBT+ social scene of Wellington, with its diverse and vibrant population, which included an array of colorful characters from drag queens to dignitaries. The activism involved not only rallies and public demonstrations but complex negotiations, media engagements, and strategic planning. Instone emphasizes the collective action from countless groups - including students, church members, unions, and various community activists - who were instrumental in advocating for the reform.

The Homosexual Law Reform Act ultimately passed in 1986. Despite being ill and unable to attend the pivotal moment the bill became law, Instone was active in the subsequent celebrations and reflections on this transformative event. They note that the legacy of this reform was not only the decriminalization of homosexuality but also the increased visibility and acceptance of the LGBT+ community in society, the media, and politics.

Throughout the interview, Instone shares personal anecdotes demonstrating the humor, solidarity, and profound personal connections formed during this time. They recount the transformative nature of their involvement, evolving from an observer to an active participant in social justice causes. The interview concludes by highlighting the 30th anniversary of the law reform and reflecting on the lasting impact of these events on New Zealand society.

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:21st June 2015
Interviewer:Jac Lynch
Copyright (image):David Hindley
Location:Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand
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Archive:The master recording is archived at the Alexander Turnbull Library (OHDL-004367).