Thursday, October 18, 2007

Homosexual Law Reform Act 1986
The New Zealand Homosexual Law Reform Act 1986 legalised consensual homosexual sex. The Act removed the provisions of the New Zealand Crimes Act 1961 that criminalised consenting gay male sex.

Homosexual Law Reform Act 1986 Background
The Act was introduced by Labour MP Fran Wilde in 1985. Originally, the bill had two parts - one decriminalised male homosexuality, while the other provided anti-discrimination law protections for lesbians and gay men. The first part passed narrowly (49 Ayes to 44 Noes) on July 9, 1986, after a vote was delayed on 2 July by George Gair; the bill might have failed if a vote was taken then as several supporters were kept away from Wellington by bad weather. Gair supported the bill, although he thought some sections went "too far". The second part failed, but was incorporated into a supplementary order paper added to the New Zealand Human Rights Act 1993.

The Bill
The Act was subject to substantial debate, and faced fierce opposition from fundamentalist Christian political activists such as the late Keith Hay, Peter Tait and Norman Jones (National MP for Invercargill), as well as the Coalition of Concerned Citizens which they created to distribute a petition against the Act. According to Laurie Guy, many of the signatures on the petition were found to be faked, and therefore the petition in question was treated as fraudulent. While the Coalition of Concerned Citizens threatened electoral reprisals, the Fourth Labour Government was returned for a second term of office, losing only one constituency seat to the National Party Opposition in 1987.
Homosexual law reform had proven a devastating defeat for New Zealand conservative Christians, as Guy wrote in his historical studies of homosexual law reform in New Zealand.