25th Anniversary Of Homosexual Law Reform

“This day will be remembered as a sad and sickening day for New Zealand”, was John Banks’ response in Parliament to the passing of the Homosexual Law Reform Bill on the 9th July 1986.

To mark the 25th anniversary of Law Reform, PrideNZ.com is making available online dramatic audio and photographs from the period.

The Homosexual Law Reform Bill was passed after 16-months of heated nationwide debate. It decriminalized homosexual acts between men and set the scene for later law changes around discrimination and recognition of same-sex partners.

“Many of the demonstrations and rallies were recorded by community radio broadcasters who later deposited their material with the Lesbian and Gay Archives of New Zealand (LAGANZ)”, says PrideNZ.com co-ordinator Gareth Watkins. “This will be the first time many of these historic recordings will be heard by a national and international audience.”

Highlights from the LAGANZ collection include recordings of protests, heated confrontations with the Salvation Army, MP Norman Jones calling for gays to go “back into the sewers where you come from”, and law reform campaigner Alison Laurie rallying supporters to “be as gay and as lesbian as you can, all the time”. There are also recordings from the early 1980s that give a glimpse into what it was like to be gay or lesbian in New Zealand at that time.

The audio from LAGANZ is part of a wider Law Reform feature on the not-for-profit website PrideNZ.com. “The website, established in 2009, is a creative and positive not-for-profit space for Queer/LGBTI voices from Aotearoa New Zealand”, says Watkins. “The site aims to challenge, affirm, provoke and reflect Queer/LGBTI views and cultures in New Zealand.”

Complementing the archival audio is a series of dramatic photographs shot at marches and rallies by photographer David Hindley. “David’s images capture the energy, venom, and celebration of the time. We are also very fortunate to have David talking about the photographs and putting them in context”, says Watkins.

An exciting addition to the archival material is a newly recorded panel discussion featuring key Law Reform proponents Fran Wilde, Alison Laurie and Bill Logan.

The vibrant discussion was recorded earlier this year at Te Papa during the 2nd AsiaPacific Outgames week in Wellington, and reflects on some of the key events and people of the time, giving first-hand accounts of how close the final parliamentary vote was.

Celebrating the 25th anniversary of Homosexual Law Reform – launches Friday 24th June 2011 on the website PrideNZ.com

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