Support Gay Red Shirt Day on Friday Nov 9, Gay Marriage is not “Not a Human Rights Issue”

Support is escalating for Gay Red Shirt Day this coming Friday and it could join the anti-bullying campaign in what could become an international movement for challenging casual pejorative speech. You can visit the movement’s Facebook page and show your support here

Gay Red Shirt Day came about after New Zealand Prime Minister John Key made a derogatory comment about a gay red shirt on a national radio show. In an interview to the press he later equated gay with weird, saying he had picked up the word from his son and it was in everyday use.

John Key says he is voting for gay marriage and is “hardly homophobic” however his position (and that of many NZ politicians) changed after Barrack Obama announced his support for gay marriage. Up until that point Key was against it.  The day after Obama came out in support of gay marriage the Prime Minister changed his tune too.
Gay Marriage “not a human rights issue”  it’s a “conscience moral issue”
That’s quite a turn around for the National Party, a few years ago National MPs voted almost universally against the Civil Union bill.  John Key had said gay issues were “not a priority” and  his Justice Minister, Judith Collins, said gay marriage was “not a human rights issue”.

In May 2012 John Key said his government was more focused on economic issues than “conscience moral issues“.

“These are difficult economic times, there are big challenges for the government, and we need to use our precious time in parliament really to resolve those issues.

“We accept this is an issue for a small group of New Zealanders and, as I say, if it comes up through the members’ process, we’ll back that but in terms of government house time, we have bigger priorities.”

He has previously said he believes civil unions between same-sex couples, which have been allowed in New Zealand since 2005, were enough.”

At the third and final reading of the Civil Union bill in parliament, 24 National MPs voted against it, only 3 voted for it.

In parliament at that time was a new MP by the name of John Key, taking up his first seat for the electorate of Helensville.

Fast forward three years to a month before the 2008 election, before his National Party formed a government in NZ,  Key was canvassing for the gay vote.

He gave an interview to the Gay Express (22 October 2008, see a copy HERE) but he told it he would not vote for Gay Marriage, nor would he vote for Civil Unions if it was presented again.

John Key agreed to a phone interview with express last week, and called us en route from Auckland to Hamilton.
He was quick to affirm his opposition to civil unions, and made no apologies for it.
“They [parliament] have the responsibility to ensure that there is equity and fairness for all New Zealanders,” he said. “Some express readers may already know that I voted against the Civil Union Bill, but I voted for the Relationships (Statutory References) Bill. I thought it was unjust that gay and lesbian New Zealanders were being discriminated against on what had been long-standing relationships, and believe that we should all be entitled to the same basic fundamental rights. Prior to the Act, rights to a spouse’s pension, the right to preside over funeral arrangements and hospital visitation rights were grossly unfair and unjust, and in that regard, I believe that parliament needs to ensure fairness for all New Zealanders. Whether it’s there to promote the rights of community groups is completely different, and an absolutely active step, but parliament does have the responsibility to be fair.”

When pressed he said he didn’t see a need to change the legislation at the time, he wasn’t even proactively thinking about it.

Turning to issues regarding the GLBT community, we asked Key if he thought, now the Civil Union Act has been in effect for four years, if the law went far enough – would he ever back the implementation of a gay marriage bill?

“I don’t think there’s a real need to change the current legislation or to adopt new legislation – it’s not something that’s been actively raised with me,” he says. “I do understand that there is a mixture of views in the community, but I don’t think there’s a huge appetite to change the scope of the current legislation or adopt a new one at this stage.”…

…Would Key vote for civil unions if it were presented again today?
Would he vote for a gay marriage bill if it were presented

Mr Key didn’t appreciate that there didn’t need to be an appetite for change. Gay marriage is more than a conscience moral issue for heterosexuals comfortable in their own relationships,  it has everything to do with fundamental human rights for GLBT people. Obama could see this, and how fortunate for New Zealanders that he did.

According to one American study 68% of GLBT youth say they hear negative messages about being GLBT from elected officials; only 16% hear positive messages from politicians. The report authors urge people to change their rhetoric and asks politicians to help end attacks on GLBT people and support their GLBT constituents. See for more.

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