Homosexual Law Reform Retrospective:
Key Events in the Homosexual Law Reform Campaign and Events Leading up
[Phil's Key Events article originally appeared
in a pamphlet titled Reform Retrospective which was produced as
part of the Two Years of Fury exhibition in June 1996. It was also
reproduced in Issue Nos. 8-11 of the newsletter Friends of LAGANZ.]
New South Wales decriminalizes gay sex with age of consent at 18.
AIDS Support Network established in Wellington by Bruce Burnett and Phil
Parliament dissolved when Muldoon calls a snap election.
Fran Wilde meets with Wellington Central gay community to discuss law
Survey of new MPs by the gay newspaper Pink Triangle indicates that the
new Parliament is more supportive with 15 of 23 new MPs supporting both
decriminalisation and human rights legislation, although there is no
consensus on the age of consent.
Gay Task Force formed in Wellington by John McDavitt, Bill Logan and
others; it establishes a legislation group to darft a bill, meets weekly
from now on, and commences lobbying of MPs.
AIDS panic strikes the media as a non-hospitalised PWA appears in
Wellington for the first time.
Christchurch Gay Task Force formed.
Auckland Gay Task Force formed by members of University Gay Group,
Equality Bill Campaign etc, with Peter Wall as spokesperson.
In Wellington discussion is continuing on the best form for a bill to
take; separate legislative proposals are being developed in Auckland.
75% of gays and lesbians ina Wellington survey have been subjected to
verbal abuse, and 42% have been threatened with physical violence on
account of their sexual orientation; Minister of Health confirms that the
Department of Health has found that the "AIDS virus" is present
in New Zealand and that blood testing kits will be imported.
Gay Task Force (Wellington) publicly calls for law reform as a necessary
AIDS prevention measure, and declares its existence publicly.
Meeting with Fran Wilde finalises detail of legislative strategy with
draft bill to be drawn up by Don McMorland based on earlier drafts by the
Auckland and Wellington groups.
Gay Task Force releases series of pamphlets to assist lobbyists.
Gay BC established as a permanent radio programme, half hour weekly from
16 February, to report on the law reform campaign.
AIDS Support Network says a $2 million grant is needed now; major
publicity about AIDS continues.
Fran Wilde refuses to comment on an allegation from Graeme Lee that she
intends to introduce a law reform bill.
Gay Task Force releases a statement that its lobbying shows that 65 out of
95 MPs support some form of law reform, although the GTF was officially
"unaware" of any bill about to be introduced.
Imminent introduction of bill announced.
Homosexual Law Reform Bill introduced by 51 to 24 votes; Gay Task Force
begins distribution of paper on how to write a submission on the Bill.
Four MPs (Braybrooke, Lee, Jones, Wallbank) launch anti-gay petition.
AIDS Support Network Trust established.
Anti-gay petition taken over by Keith Hay and Peter Tait.
Anti-gay forces launch petition, and Salvation Army announces it will
administer it; within a week it is circulating in schools.
Methodist church backs reform. Cardinal Williams issues a statement in
Anti-gay meeting in Lower Hutt, organised by Patricia Bartlett, is stacked
by gay supporters who pay half the hire for the right to speak and succeed
in passing a motion in support of the Bill.
Health Minister announces AIDS funding package which includes a grant to
the AIDS Support Network Trust.
North Shore anti-gay meeting is addressed by Braybrooke and Richard Flinn;
Peter Wall is ejected amid scenes of disruption.
Anti-gay meeting in Wellington Town Hall attracts about 1000 people
including some 600 gay supporters who drown out anti-gay speakers - Tait,
Jones, Ranchod, etc - and force the meeting to close down.
Submissions on the Homosexual Law Reform Bill close; over 2000 submissions
and letters were received.
First Heylen opinion poll narrowly backs reform: 51% in favour and 42%
Anti-gay propaganda from Calvinist "Reformed Churches" and
Coalition of Concerned Citizens appears.
Lange declares support; McLay declares opposition.
Anti-gay petitioners extend date for signature collection because they do
not have enough.
Wellington gay community holds separate Holocaust Commemoration function
in protest at Salvation Army participation at the official function.
Jim McLay tells The Dominion: "I have always said that I regard
homosexuality as abhorrent."
Statutes Revision Committee begins hearings on Homosexual Law Reform Bill
Bigot Busters rally at Wellington Town Hall attended by 1400 people.
Human Rights Commission issues statement in support of the Homosexual Law
Lesbian and Gay Rights March in Wellington attended by an estimated 5000.
Lesbian and Gay Rights March in Auckland attended by an estimated 2000.
Marilyn Waring comes out publicly.
MPs start to release electorate surveys; quality variable.
Death of Bruce Burnett.
"Heterosexuals Unafraid of Gays" [HUG] formed in Wellington by
HUG holds its first public meeting.
Wellington Anglican Synod announces support for decriminalisation.
Heylen poll shows 4% increase in support for reform.
TVNZ postpones screening of a series on sexuality because of the
Homosexual Law Reform Bill.
AIDS Support Network Trust turns into NZ AIDS Foundation and launches its
first public campaign.
"Coalition to Support the Bill" formed in Wellington. This was a
coalition of the numerous special focus groups and constituency groups -
such as Gay Task Force, HUG and Lesbian Coalition - formed to enable wider
support for public campaigns.
Petition workers organised from Keith Hay’s Auckland office tour New
Zealand gathering signatures for anti-gay petition.
First visit by American fundamentalist organiser Rev Lou Sheldon
(California Traditional Family Values Coalition) in association with Keith
Hay and Barry Reed. Sheldon attends Select Committee hearing. His North
Shore Faith Centre meeting is infiltrated by gays and disrupted.
Coalition on the Bill rally in Wellington attracts 600.
Petitioners claim 750,000 signatures.
Link between AIDS campaign and law reform now widely accepted.
National Gay/Lesbian "Bigot Busters Conference" starts in
Restructuring of Statutes Revision Committee, following revision of
Parliamentary Standing Orders, allows more rapid progress of the
Homosexual Law Reform Bill, now dealt with by a separate committee.
Submissions from the Health Department and from the New Zealand Homosexual
Law Reform Society heard.
An estimated 20,000 march nationally in support of the Homosexual Law
Reform Bill in a major show of support before it returns from the Select
Heylen poll shows support for reform has increased to 62.3%
Anti-gay campaign produces statistical analysis by electorate of petition
signatures against the Homosexual Law Reform Bill in an effort to
intimidate MPs. Gay Task Force responds with disproof the next day.
Coalition of Concerned Citizens is relaunched by Reed and Hay in the wake
of Sheldon’s visit. This becomes the principal focus of the campaign
against the Homosexual Law Reform Bill and the main supporter of the
Anti-gay petition presented at Parliament in scenes recalling a Nazi
rally; organised by another visiting American fundamentalist, John Swann.
Rock Hudson dies of AIDS.
The Social Effects of Homosexuality in New Zealand published by the
Coalition of Concerned Citizens (CCC). Task Force issues a rebuttal after
a week of frenetic research into the source material for the CCC
publication involving a team of people all over New Zealand.
Arson attempt at Gay Task Force HQ.
Homosexual Law Reform Bill reported back, intact, from Select Committee
after 110 oral and 1100 written submissions considered.
At the same time the petition, now viewed as totally discredited, is
reported "without recommendation".
Second reading debate commences. It will last four weeks because opponents
try to ‘talk it out’.
Norman Jones tells interviewer he is trying to ‘talk out’ the
Homosexual Law Reform Bill so that more people will die of AIDS.
The debate ends with a vote 47-32 in favour (along party lines, more or
New York City Council adds sexual orientation to its antidiscrimination
legislation after many earlier attempts have failed.
Jim McLay loses National Party leadership to Jim Bolger.
16 preserved as age of consent as a result of tactical voting (majority of
5 votes: 41-36).
Antidiscrimination provisions are watered down by tactical voting, and
then lost 49-31.
Age of consent amendments resurface. Tactical delays are resorted to to
keep the bill off the order paper until we have the numbers to pass it.
Last ditch lobbying effort coordinated by NZ AIDS Foundation.
May Gay Task Force stall at Trade Fair, Wellington Show Grounds.
Eve van Grafhorst comes to New Zealand.
Hardwick decision is released by the US Supreme Court.
"We’ve had enough of compromise" newspaper adverts placed by
Gay Task Force.
Bill starts 3rd reading, but Gair’s vote defers closure and delays the
bill a further week (43-42) as supporters were short of votes to pass it.
The numbers come right at 5-30pm. 3rd reading of Homosexual law Reform
Bill passes 49-44 shortly before 10pm. Apart from Jim McLay (in Hong Kong)
all MPs are present to vote.
Miriam Saphira announces result the same night to International Gay and
Lesbian Association Conference in Copenhagen.
Homosexual Law Reform Act 1986 signed into law by the Governor-General; to
come into effect on 8 August.
Arson attack on the Lesbian and Gay Rights Resource Centre, a key event
among those which eventually led to the transformation of its collections
into what we now know as the Lesbian and Gay Archives of New Zealand.