Long time gay activists Des Smith and John Jolliff say they are extremely offended by the comments made by National MP Kanwaljit S Bakshi during their submissions the Select Comittee Hearing for the Marriage Amendment Bill. Mr Bakshi asked the pair “as to who would play the husband and who the wife should we gain the right to marriage?”
Smith and Jolliff have sent a letter to Ruth Dyson, the Chair of the Committee, in which they speak of their disgust. “We neither expected nor appreciated the insulting question from Mr Bakshi as to who would play the husband and who the wife should we gain the right to marriage. To be frank it was offensive although it would have been inappropriate for us to express anger at the time. Des parried the question by saying that we did not role play and lightheartedly referred to John doing most of the cooking Fortunately this raised a laugh. We do feel however that now is the time to express our discomfort.”
They go on to say that it is simply unacceptable for Mr Bakshis’s comments to surface during a hearing such as this. “Mr Bakshi is of course entitled to his views on the Bill and his opposition to it has been evident in the public arena. For his prejudices, or perhaps his ignorance, to surface during a Select committee hearing.is we believe unacceptable. This is particularly so in the light of your comments before each submission for the proceedings to continue with respect on all sides.”
During his submission Smith spoke of his experiences of being a gay man saying “In the late 1950’s -1960’s I attended the weddings of my siblings but was never asked to bring a partner despite the sometimes snide comments such as ‘your turn next’. It would have been wonderful to say “ yes I’ve found the man I love and I’d like you to come to our marriage ceremony.”
“I have no doubt that Louisa Wall’s Bill will help diminish much of the homophobia in our society. ” It is comments such as Mr Bakshi’s that strengthen this homophobia.
The couple believe that the actions or Mr Bakshi are simply unacceptable and say “We would like Bakshi to be removed from the panel while Louisa’s Bill is being discussed.
“He seems incapable of understanding same sex relationships and I suspect unwilling to consider evidence before him that conflicts with his views. It seems very likely that he could pose further ridiculous or crass questions to others making submissions in support of the Bill.”
John Key has spoken out in support of Mr Bakshi saying he was just “doing his job”, the pair discuss this in their letter, saying “We are very perturbed to read that the Prime Minister when approached by journalists about Mr Bakshi’s line of questioning is quoted as saying ‘He is just doing his job’ This clearly endorses Mr Bakshi’s actions and we fear that it will give him the green light to treat others discourteously too.”
The couple say they hope no other people making submissions will be subjected to similar ignorant comments.
| Sarah Murphy