If you believe the polls, National is headed for a second term in government. According to some polls, they may even be granted an absolute majority. If that were to happen, the ten people below would be, in Parliamentary terms, the ten most powerful people in the country. But what do they think of you? Chris Banks investigates.
1 John Key
Voted against the Civil Union Act, but in favour of the accompanying Relationships Act, which allowed your partner to be legally recognised as next of kin. Has said that adoption law reform is “not a priority” for the Government. Invited queer youth groups to his office earlier this year to discuss bullying in schools – the groups described the meeting as “positive”, but there was no statement from Key. There was, however, a widely-distributed photo. Told crowd at 2011 Big Gay Out, “In 2008, National promised it wouldn’t roll back any gay rights, and the Government hasn’t”.
Voted against both the Civil Union and Relationship Acts. Threatened GayNZ.com with legal action in 2007 when they revealed his teenage son was the author of a Bebo page abusing “whiney faggots” and that emos were more hated than blacks and Jews combined, “and for good reason too”. Initially responding with no comment, English eventually issued a statement admitting the page was genuine after three weeks, but issued no apology.
A long-time MP, Smith voted against the Homosexual Law Reform Act, the Civil Union Act and the Relationships Act. Long dogged by gay rumours, he married his longtime girlfriend Alexandra Lang at Parliament in 2009. A year earlier, as the party’s immigration spokesman, he made world headlines after remarking that some employers were having to teach Pacific Islanders how to use the toilet and that Asians were better at picking fruit because they had small hands.
Voted against the Civil Union Act and Relationship Acts. During the Civil Union Bill’s first reading, he said this in Parliament:
“The question is why one would want to recognise in law a group of people who have said for so long that they want to be recognised as different, but are now saying they want to be treated the same as other people. In my view, the sad fact is — although some will find this difficult to take — they are not the same.”
Voted against the Civil Union Act and Relationship Acts, but for the Human Rights Act in 1993, which outlawed discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and disability (which includes HIV status). Despite pleas from NZAF and the mental health sector, failed to step in over the closure of the 198 Youth Health Centre in Christchurch due to lack of funding. The centre provided support for at-risk youth aged between 10 and 25, including queer youth with physical and mental health issues.
Voted against the Civil Union and Relationship Acts, but for the Human Rights Act. During the Civil Union Bill’s third reading, he said this of the Labour Government in Parliament:
“…this is the most anti-family Government in the history of New Zealand. That is a fact. I fear for what will come next. I know that work is going on with the adoption law. I am sure that gay adoption will be the next piece of legislation this Government will attempt to ram through this House. I note that Georgina Beyer wants to introduce another bill to the effect that in this country we not only will have men and women but will separately recognise, through another set of legislation, a third so-called sex, transgender. I say that, too, will be a step backwards for our country.”
Voted against the Civil Union and Relationship Acts. During the Civil Union Bill’s third reading, she said this in Parliament: “Is this a human rights issue? The census figures stated that 0. 3 per cent of adults in New Zealand say they live in a same-sex relationship – not a very large portion of the population – as opposed to the more than 45 per cent of adult New Zealanders who are married. So why would we be looking at this as a human rights issue? Look, if civil union were a human rights issue, I would be the first one in there championing the cause, but I do not think it is. Nor do I think that marriage is a human rights issue, because the moment it is, then so is polygamy. Why is the House not pushing a bill along to the select committee today celebrating polygamy?”
Was not in Parliament last term, has been Education Minister this term. Has continuously stonewalled queries from Rainbow Wellington over what action is being taken over bullying of queer students in schools. The government-funded Youth 07 study found that over half of queer students polled had been hit or physically harmed in the last year. When I phoned Tolley’s office for comment on this last year, they had not heard of the study and asked if it was American.
National’s only openly gay MP, Finlayson’s position as Attorney General is a very senior one. He has publicly acknowledged that he is Catholic, single, as well as celibate, which would fit in line with the church’s bizarre teachings on homosexuality. Believes the civil union legislation is “flawed”, because marriage “is a heterosexual institution and I would not want to think that anything would be done which would harm that institution. I think it’s [civil union] marriage using a different term.”
Voted against the Civil Union and Relationship Acts. Nothing on the public record with regards to his thoughts on queer issues, but appears to argue very passionately for animal rights. Compare this statement to the statements on GLBT rights above. “Animal welfare is vitally important to New Zealand – as a nation we are passionate and enthusiastic owners of companion animals… more than half of New Zealand households have at least one cat, and just over 35 per cent of households own a dog. Mahatma Gandhi once said: The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated. How very true.”
| Chris Banks