1 Jan 2000


The Property (Relationships) Act 2000 becomes law. The Act gives de facto couples, whether opposite or same-sex, the same property rights on the break-up of a relationship.

17 Feb 2001


The final HERO parade is held along Ponsonby Road. The parade had run into financial difficulties, with the Hero Charitable Trust owing creditors more than $140,000 dollars. The following year a smaller "march" was organised with around 10,000 spectators (at its peak, HERO attracted around 100,000). A pride parade was re-established in 2013 and on 17 February 2018, in front of a crowd of around 30,000 people, Jacinda Ardern became the first Prime Minister to walk in the Auckland event. The organisers called it the "largest and loudest carnival of equality and diversity in Aotearoa New Zealand" and Ardern said the government "walks beside" the rainbow community.

5 Sep 2002


The New Zealand AIDS Foundation launches its safe sex campaign Toolbox on National Penis Day. The toolbox was distributed to people on the street and contained condoms, lubricants and application hints. NZAF executive director Kevin Hague told media that demand was so high people were chasing distributors down the street to ensure that they received one. Earlier the NZAF had unsuccessfully tried to erect public billboards featuring large penises. Hague said "Despite practically everyone either having a penis or being pretty familiar with the sight of someone else's, men's penises are considered to be so obscene and offensive that they cannot be shown on a billboard in New Zealand."

30 Sep 2002


Fashion designer Michael Pattison gains national media attention by competing as an openly gay man in the Cleo Bachelor of the Year. The popularity competition had been run by the women's magazine Cleo since 1985. Pattison had previously won Mr Gay Wellington and Mr Drag Wellington. He would go on to establish his own internationally successful fashion label that was initially kick-started through a WINZ grant. A few years ago Pattison moved to Berlin and founded the Fusion Factory - a dynamic concept space for fashion design, gastronomy, photography and events.

16 Oct 2002


Fiona Clark's Go Girl exhibition opens at the Govett-Brewster Gallery in New Plymouth. The exhibition explored gender and identity over a 30-year period. It included contemporary images plus two captioned photographs from the mid-1970s that caused moral outrage at the time. The images depicted transgender partygoers and contained captions that were described as "objectionable and indecent" by the then Mayor of New Plymouth Denny Sutherland. The public outcry was so strong that various galleries (including the Govett-Brewster) removed the images from the touring exhibition. The two photographs subsequently disappeared on route between galleries.

15 Dec 2002


Over $110,000 dollars was raised to support HIV and AIDS work in New Zealand. The money was raised through the sale of MAC Cosmetics Viva Glam products and the M.A.C Art for AIDS auction - with 34 New Zealand artists donating works. New Zealand AIDS Foundation spokesperson Jonathan Smith told media that he was over the moon with the money raised and the response from artists. M.A.C AIDS Fund is an international charity established to support people living with HIV and AIDS and is funded entirely by the sale of M.A.C products.

25 Jun 2003


The Prostitution Reform Act narrowly passes its third and final reading in Parliament (60/59). In doing so, New Zealand becomes the first country in the world to decriminalise sex work. The New Zealand Prostitutes' Collective had been advocating for reform since its inception in 1987. That call was taken up by Labour MP Tim Barnett who introduced a bill that would enable sex workers to have access to the same protections afforded to workers in other industries. Speaking during the final debate, MP Georgina Beyer said that she was voting for the Bill "for all the prostitutes I have ever known who have died before the age of 20 because of the inhumanity and hypocrisy of a society that would not ever give them the chance to redeem whatever circumstances made them arrive in that industry."

2 Jul 2003


A TVNZ broadcast at 9.30pm of Reel Life: The Truth about Lesbian Sex generates both large audience numbers and complaints to the Broadcasting Standards Authority. An estimated 382,000 viewers watched the documentary which explored lesbian relationships and provided "graphic instruction on how to achieve sexual gratification with and without the use of various sexual aids." Media reported that talk radio was bombarded with irate callers, while the BSA received formal complaints - both about the programme and its promotion. One person complained about an advert which featured the comment "The truth about lesbian sex for me is that I am having the best sex that I have ever had in my entire life." Another person complained that the programme inappropriately encouraged lesbian sex as an exciting and viable alternative to heterosexual sex. Both complaints were not upheld by the BSA.

20 Jul 2003


Television personality David McNee is killed by Phillip Edwards in Auckland. McNee had paid Edwards $120 for a sexual encounter. However Edwards' lawyers would later tell the court that he was only there to masturbate in front of McNee on a "no-touch basis." Edwards told police that he was provoked into killing McNee because "he thought I was gay." He admitted to bashing him 30 to 40 times around the head. Edwards was charged with murder but was ultimately convicted of the lesser crime of manslaughter. Commenting on the case, and more generally on the defence of provocation (gay panic), author Peter Wells wrote, "It is impossible in New Zealand - and many other countries - to murder a homosexual. It is possible to be found guilty of manslaughter. The underlying message is that any homosexual’s life is of little value... It seems unjust that the person charged with the killing is the one who gets to tell the story."

17 Aug 2003


Media report that a stunning 3-metre-high nude photograph of performance artist Mika was causing controversy at the Christchurch Art Gallery. The work, Mika: Kai Tahu by Christine Webster showed Mika in a full-frontal nude pose. A number of locals complained saying that it was disgusting and pornographic. One woman told media that she couldn't get the image out of her mind "I walked around the corner, and I felt like there was a nude man standing there exposing himself to me... you just couldn't get away from it." Hubert Klaassens from the gallery responded by saying that the male nude was a well explored subject in international art and artist Christine Webster welcomed the comments saying that it was "very affirming" to get strong feedback.

21 Aug 2003


The Broadcasting Standards Authority decided not to uphold a complaint against TVNZ for censoring music videos involving same-sex affection. The public broadcaster justified the removal of same-sex kisses because the videos were being shown in the daytime to a younger audience and, in the case of Christina Aguilera's Beautiful, the decision was due to "the intensity of the kissing in which it was clear that there was an intertwining of tongues between the two men involved." One of the complainants, New Zealand Young Labour, labelled the censorship as "active discrimination." Another complainant, Tony Milne, stated "Your station is contributing [to] the marginalisation of same-sex people and displays of affection. Your station, by omitting same-sex displays of affection, is contributing to making young gay people invisible yet again."

15 Oct 2003


Media report that Waikato policeman Bruce Lyon had been appointed as the first rainbow diversity liaison officer within the police. The announcement was met with criticism by some - including Radio Pacific talkback host Mark Bennett. Bennett questioned why there shouldn't also be a liaison officer appointed for necrophiliacs, sado-masochists and homophobes. The broadcast would later become the subject of a complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority. While the complaint was not upheld, the BSA said Bennett's comments were "close to the border of what amounts to 'hate' speech."

15 Dec 2003


The Broadcasting Standards Authority partially upholds a complaint about TVNZ broadcasting a six-part religious series featuring Pastor (now Apostle) Brian Tamaki. The broadcast received a number of complaints, including from the New Zealand AIDS Foundation who said TVNZ clearly encouraged the denigration of sections of the community on the grounds of sexual orientation. In the programmes, Tamaki repeatedly used the word "perversion" when characterising the lifestyle of the gay community. While TVNZ advised the producers that the comments in the series were “totally unacceptable” it also told the BSA that it had an ongoing responsibility to preserve the right to freedom of expression. Still, the authority ordered TVNZ to review its processes for appraising such programmes before broadcast in the future.

4 Apr 2004


Media report that some traditional signs used in New Zealand Sign Language were being replaced ahead of NZSL becoming New Zealand's third official language. At the time, Gays were depicted with a "limp wrist", Jews were represented with a "hook nosed" gesture and Chinese were depicted with a pulling motion to the eye. Brent Macpherson from the Deaf Association told media "It's not really political correctness gone mad. It's more to do with respecting each other." Although new signs were developed the old variants are still shown in the online NZSL Dictionary. After complaints from the public in 2019, Rachel McKee, one of the editors of the dictionary, told media "The job of a dictionary is to record, document and describe the language as people use it, not to prescribe it."

11 Aug 2004


Phillip Edwards is found not guilty of murdering TV celebrity David McNee. Instead the jury found Edwards guilty of manslaughter, after he successfully used the partial defence of provocation, commonly known as gay panic defence. In general terms, a person is so offended and frightened by a same-sex sexual advance that they lose self-control - often characterised by unusual violence. Five years later on 18 August 2009, Parliament began voting on an amendment that would ultimately remove the partial defence of provocation from New Zealand law.

23 Aug 2004


MP Georgina Beyer, along with pro-civil union campaigners, confronts thousands of Destiny Church supporters on the steps of Parliament. Destiny Church had marched through the streets of Wellington dressed in black, fists in the air chanting "enough is enough." A couple of days later The Dominion Post published a Tom Scott cartoon mocking the church's rally. The text on the cartoon read "I know this is not the right place or time, Kev, but you're really hot in those tight black pants." Georgina Beyer remembers "I was so angry I suppose, I marched across the forecourt of Parliament yelling out loudly ‘Why do you hate us so much? What is this, that you're teaching your our children - this hatred towards us?’ That ended up on the news that night, and many of our rainbow people around the country went Hallelujah, our voice is there to stare down this great adversity that we were facing from these people – one of the proudest moments of my parliamentary life."

23 Oct 2004


The Rev. Bernice King, daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., flies to New Zealand to speak out against civil unions at a Destiny New Zealand rally in Auckland. The Civil Union Bill was still being debated in Parliament when King visited. She said that her father "did not take a bullet for same-sex unions". She recounted her father's words "injustice anywhere is a threat to injustice everywhere" and "immorality anywhere is a threat to morality everywhere". At the time, some in the media pointed out that her mother, Coretta Scott King, and sister, Yolanda King, had both spoken out in support of gay rights and that Bayard Rustin - one of Martin Luther King Jr.'s closest advisors - was gay.

9 Dec 2004


Parliament passes the Civil Union Act allowing both same-sex and heterosexual couples to be legally recognised in an arrangement similar to marriage. Most parties treat the legislation as a conscience issue, with MPs being allowed to vote according to their own personal conscience. Leader of United Future, MP Peter Dunne, railed against civil unions saying "this misguided piece of legislation is pure social engineering and the ultimate in political correctness. [It is] an out and out attack on the values of mainstream New Zealand." Dunne, along with National MP Maurice Williamson (another opponent of the legislation) would later vote in favour of marriage equality in 2013.

13 Jan 2005


The NZ Herald reports that Frank Geddes, a marriage celebrant in Northland, had quit the role because he didn't want to civilly unite same-sex couples. Geddes found the idea of homosexuality "abhorrent [...] I find women very attractive. I don't find men attractive at all." At the same time, after a week-long advertising campaign, the Department of Internal Affairs received almost forty applications from people wanting to become celebrants. Four years later, in January 2009, MP Grant Robertson and long-time partner Alf Kaiwai exchanged vows in a civil union ceremony at Old St Paul's in Wellington. Robertson told media "we met playing rugby. I was the number eight and he was the halfback - a great combination."

Jan 2005


Debate is heating up over MP Georgina Beyer's Human Rights (Gender Identity) Amendment Bill. The legislation, which was introduced at the same time as the Civil Union Bill was being debated, offered protection from discrimination on the grounds of gender identity. Organisations like the NZ AIDS Foundation and the Green Party backed the measure, while the Maxim Institute asked if this would be "the latest victory of political correctness over biology?" The Bill was ultimately shelved until after the general election in 2005, and then withdrawn by Beyer in 2006 following an opinion from Crown Law saying that transgender people were already protected under the existing human rights legislation of New Zealand.

5 Feb 2005


After celebrating its 20th anniversary on-air, Gay BC (Gay Broadcasting Collective) ends it's weekly radio programme on Wellington's Access Radio. Long-time presenter Hugh Young told media "With gay programmes on mainstream TV, gay love on Coro St and openly gay MPs, GLBT culture and awareness is much more mainstream than it was when we started out [in 1985]." Starting around the same time – but still continuing to broadcast weekly on Access Radio - is the Wellington Lesbian Community Radio programme. It is one of, if not the longest running community radio show in New Zealand.

4 May 2005


In the wake of the Civil Union Act 2004, United Future MP Larry Baldock's Marriage (Gender Clarification) Amendment Bill is introduced into Parliament. The Bill sets out to explicitly define who could marry: "For the avoidance of doubt, marriage may only occur between one man and one woman", that "a person may not marry another person of the same gender" and same-gender marriages solemnised overseas would not be recognised as marriage in New Zealand. The Bill was championed by United Future MP Gordon Copeland who said "marriage is a solid rock [...] It is in the interests of creating stable, beautiful, adult relationships between a man and a woman. It safeguards the interests of children, particularly the right of the child - the right of every child - to have both a mum and a dad." However the Bill didn’t get past its first reading, with Parliament voting in December 2005 against it continuing by 73/47.

16 Nov 2005


Labour MP Maryan Street makes her inaugural speech in Parliament. Street is New Zealand's first openly out lesbian elected to Parliament (MP Marilyn Waring was publicly outed by the New Zealand Truth newspaper in August 1976 - a couple of months before the Colin Moyle incident). Street's speech reflected on her journey: "As a lesbian, I have often been the subject of other people's efforts to push me to the margins, to erode my legitimacy as a citizen, and to belittle my efforts and achievements. I have never accepted marginalisation; it is a construct of others who wish me to be marginalised. It is not where I see myself or the many others like me. But it has always required courage, and I have not come into this House to be less than brave about the human rights of those whom some would seek to marginalise."

1 Dec 2005


The first ILGA Pacific Conference is held in Auckland. The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association was formed in the United Kingdom by a group of international activists in 1978 with the intention of creating a network and platform to campaign against discrimination and persecution faced by LGBTI people around the world. In March 2019 the ILGA World Conference was held in Wellington - the first time the global conference had been held in this part of the world.

8 Jan 2006


Security guards at an international cricket game in Napier make newspaper headlines when they stopped two women from kissing. The kiss had been shown to a cheering crowd on McLean Park's big-screen monitor. A guard allegedly then told the women that they were distracting the crowd, and would be thrown out if they did it again. A spokesman for Redback Security later told media that the kiss was inflammatory and had "upset two of my more sensitive staff. It got the boys riled up, to be honest."

2 May 2007


Broadcaster and kaumatua of the NZ AIDS Foundation Henare te Ua dies. Te Ua had a 40-year career in radio as well as being a champion for HIV education and prevention. Former NZAF Board Trustee and Chair Charles Chauvel, told media at the time that Te Ua played "an enormously significant role in helping frame our thinking about how the Foundation should work with Maori in a meaningful, not tokenistic, way." Te Ua was awarded the Queen's Commendation Medal in 1990, the Queen's Service Medal in 1992 for public services and in 2002, the Sir Kingi Ihaka lifetime contribution award.

16 May 2007


After a nearly five-month delay, the Charlotte Museum Trust is finally registered as a charitable trust. The enthusiasm for a museum of lesbian culture in Auckland had been growing for some time, and in January 2007 a Trust deed had been signed. And then the waiting began. Founding trustee, Miriam Saphira, recalls phoning the Charities Commission in May 2007: "I do not know what the problem is as our trust deed has been rigorously checked by a lawyer. We are lesbians so we are used to discrimination and some people would have a personal or religious difficulty with the idea." Within hours they were told that their application had been approved. The museum now holds a diverse and significant collection of lesbian-related taonga, books and early publications.

6 Aug 2007


The New Zealand AIDS Foundation announces an increase of over 200% in the number of people testing for HIV since the introduction of a new rapid HIV test. People were now able to receive results in 20 minutes. NZAF Positive Health Manager Eamonn Smythe said that many people using the tests had never been tested before, "Some of these people had been deterred from testing previously by the anxiety of having to wait up to a week for results from a blood test." Rapid testing began in Auckland in December 2006 and was then rolled out to Hamilton, Christchurch and Wellington. Nowadays, rapid tests can give results for both HIV and syphilis in a minute.

6 Sep 2007


New Zealand's Chief Censor Bill Hastings seeks input from the public about the effects of freely-available condomless gay pornography. He told media "Depictions of explicit sexual behaviour influence us to a greater or lesser extent, and in a variety of ways. The emergence of "bareback porn" is, therefore, particularly worrying." Hasting was concerned about the threat that the material posed to public health with the practices it depicted becoming “normalised through repeated viewing.”

13 Oct 2007


Jenny Rowan is elected Mayor of Kapiti Coast District. Rowan was only the second openly LGBTI person in New Zealand to be elected to the office of Mayor (the first being Georgina Beyer in the Carterton District). Back in 1995 Rowan and partner Jools Joslin along with two other lesbian couples challenged the country's marriage laws by applying for licences to marry. Their applications were declined and so began years of court action, culminating in the couple suing New Zealand before the United Nations Human Rights Committee. It wasn't until August 2013 - eighteen years later -that same-sex marriage would become legal in New Zealand.

Dec 2007


The Human Rights Commission published To Be Who I Am/Kia noho au ki toku ano ao. The report was the result of its Transgender Inquiry, which had begun in 2006. The inquiry was a world first by a national human rights institution and focused on transgender people's personal experiences of discrimination, their difficulties accessing health services and the barriers that they faced when trying to have their gender identity legally recognised (e.g. on birth certificates and passports).

15 Apr 2008


Singer-songwriter Mahinarangi Tocker dies in Auckland following a severe asthma attack. A few months earlier Tocker had been appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to music. Reflecting on Tocker's career, Tama Waipara told media "she was fearless [...] a real advocate for mental health, feminism, gay rights, Maori rights: she was a super-hero." On the 10th anniversary of her death, in 2018, a special tribute concert was held in Auckland featuring fellow singer-songwriters including Shona Laing, Charlotte Yates and Anika Moa.

30 Apr 2008


TVNZ broadcasts an episode of Shortland Street that contained a gay sexual encounter. The Broadcasting Standards Authority later ruled that the episode breached broadcasting standards (children's interest, good taste and decency). This was the first time a BSA complaint had been upheld against the television soap. The scene involved two male characters laying in bed talking. Lindsay went under the blankets and Gerald nervously asked him "where are you going?" Lindsay popped his head back up and replied "it's a surprise" before descending back under.

4 Jul 2008


Chris Brickell launches his groundbreaking book Mates and Lovers, A History of Gay New Zealand. Described as "a priceless treasure of who we are and how we arrived here", the 430-page book took over three years to research. In 2009 it won the Best First Book Award for Non-fiction at the Montana New Zealand Book Awards. Now over a decade later, a new generation of rainbow historians are paying tribute to Brickell's work. In 2020, historian Will Hansen told a queer history event at Te Papa "[This book] is incredibly special to me personally, as I'm sure I'm not the only queer history kid in Aotearoa who would tell you that stumbling across Mates and Lovers is what made me realise that doing queer history is possible in New Zealand."

22 Sep 2008


Parliament’s Speaker, Margaret Wilson, opens the Rainbow Room - a select committee meeting room dedicated to New Zealand's rainbow communities. The room is one of several select committee spaces in Parliament dedicated to different communities, including the Women's Suffrage Room. Wilson tells attendees at the launch "This is where we, as members of Parliament, are at our most influential and intensive, and so it is appropriate that it is with our select committee rooms that we celebrate our diverse Parliament and the democratic system which has finally delivered representation." In 2019 the room, which can be visited by the public, was refurbished and now features photographs of former and current rainbow Members of Parliament, a variety of community flags, six significant pieces of legislation and Mana Takatāpui - an artwork by Elizabeth Kerekere commissioned to celebrate marriage equality.

Nov 2008


The Rule Foundation is established to "advance the health, wellbeing and visibility" of rainbow communities in New Zealand. The Foundation took its name from Peter Rule who had had a distinguished career within the Royal New Zealand Air Force in the 1950s and 60s. However in the mid-1970s he was told that officials had observed him socialising too closely with a man while on a United Nations posting overseas. The incident effectively ended his military career. From there, Rule moved into arts administration. Before his suicide in 1987 he wrote about his wish to financially help other members of the rainbow community after his death "This may be towards [assisting] those who have had difficulty in coming to terms with their lifestyle and the related feelings of isolation and loneliness, or may [be] in other ways disadvantaged." Since 2008 the Foundation has given out over $400,000 to a wide range of rainbow projects.

10 Jul 2009


Tourist Ferdinand Ambach is found guilty of the manslaughter of Auckland pensioner Ronald Brown. Brown was found in his flat with part of a banjo forced down his throat. He had also been bashed and bludgeoned multiple times with a dumbbell. Originally charged with murder, Ambach successfully used the provocation (gay panic) defence, claiming Brown had made an unwanted homosexual advance. Ambach was one of the last people to successfully use this form of defence in New Zealand - with Parliament passing the Crimes (Provocation Repeal) Amendment Act in November 2009. Ambach was sentenced to twelve years imprisonment. He was released in 2016, after serving eight years and immediately deported back to Hungary. He cannot re-enter New Zealand until after his parole period ends on 9 December 2019.

11 Aug 2009


Broadcasting live from the offices of Rainbow Youth in Auckland, breakfast weather presenter Tamati Coffey announced a donation of over a quarter-of-a-million dollars to Rainbow Youth, his chosen charity for the television show Dancing with the Stars. Coffey and dancing partner Samantha Hitchcock won the competition back in April.

5 Sep 2009


Untouchable Girls, the internationally acclaimed film about the Topp Twins, wins the Best Feature Film (budget under $1 million) award at the Qantas Film and Television Awards. Also in September 2009, Niki Caro’s The Vintner's Luck had its world premiere. The film was based on Elizabeth Knox's acclaimed book. Knox lay in bed for days crying over the film's treatment of the gay romance between the angel and winemaker. She told media that the film reduced the gay relationship to little more than the angel giving advice about wine, "[Caro] took out what the book was actually about" Knox said.

24 Nov 2009


The second and third readings of the Crimes (Provocation Repeal) Amendment Bill takes place in Parliament (New Zealand). The removal of the provocation defence - also known as the gay panic defence (Section 169 of the Crimes Act 1961) was in part due to a public outcry when it was used in a heterosexual context by Clayton Weatherston. He claimed he was provoked into stabbing his ex-girlfriend 216 times. He was eventually convicted of her murder. Parliament completes the Second Reading, Committee of the Whole House and Third Reading of the Bill in one sitting day.

30 Nov 2009


Glenn Mills is found dead in his cell at Auckland's remand centre at Mt Eden prison. Mills was due to stand trial for allegedly infecting numerous sexual partners with HIV. The trial was set to become one of the biggest criminal proceedings relating to the transmission of HIV in New Zealand. The case also created intense media interest, with some publications labelling Mills as the "HIV predator." Mill's pre-trial suicide compounded the tragedy of the situation on many levels. The website hivjustice.net reflected "we shall never know whether the case was more hysteria than fact." And Express magazine editor Hannah Jennings-Voykovich noted "Whether there was the intent. Whether there could be proof that there was an intent in court. I think there are going to be a lot of hurt people out there wondering what happened."