Audio Curios: “The Beauty of Difference”

– By Gareth Watkins (Radio Collection Developer, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)

9 July 2016 marks the 30th anniversary of the passing of the Homosexual Law Reform Bill. The occasion offers an opportunity to dip into Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision’s radio collection and explore how the taonga can highlight changing societal attitudes –  in this case focusing on some of the perspectives of our Members of Parliament.

 

"Eyewitness News," 24 May 1985, TVNZ
“Eyewitness News,” 24 May 1985, TVNZ

 

One of the more striking changes in attitude has been from former MP John Banks. In the mid-1980s he was vehemently opposed to homosexual law reform. Here he is speaking in Parliament in 1986 about this “evil” Bill.

 

Committee of the Whole House, Parliament, 25 March 1986. Appears in the Radio New Zealand documentary 20 Years Out!,  original audio sourced from LAGANZ (ref: 0234-B)

 

However, 27 years later, in April 2013, John Banks backed same-sex marriage. Here he is speaking during the third reading of the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill. The Bill passed its third and final reading 77 / 44.

 

Third reading of the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill, Parliament, 17 April 2013

 

MP Norman Jones, 1985 (photographer: David Hindley)
MP Norman Jones, 1985 (photographer: David Hindley)

 

One Member of Parliament who never changed his viewpoint was Norman Jones (d.1987). He, along with a number of other MPs, used spurious arguments to try and stop the passage of the Bill. One of those arguments was that law reform would increase homosexual activity, and therefore increase the prevalence of AIDS (proponents of the Bill argued that decriminalisation was essential to successfully limit the HIV AIDS epidemic).

 

Interview with Norman Jones, 13 November 1985. Appears in the Radio New Zealand documentary 20 Years Out!,  original audio sourced from LAGANZ (ref: 0207-A)

 

Eyewitness News, 5 November 1985, TVNZ
“Eyewitness News,” 5 November 1985, TVNZ

 

But times have changed, and we now have greater diversity in Parliament – due in part to the MMP voting system (Mixed Member Proportional), in place since 1996. An example of this diversity is MP Jan Logie, who has been a List MP since 2011. Here’s an edited excerpt from her maiden speech where she celebrates the “beauty of difference”:

 

Maiden speech of MP Jan Logie, Parliament, 15 February 2012

 

The full radio documentary about homosexual law reform in the mid-1980s can be heard here.

And there’s a special screening of material from the homosexual law reform period on Saturday 9 July at 4.30pm at Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision, Wellington.

A special thank you to Linda Evans, Lesbian and Gay Archives of New Zealand, for help with this blog.

This post is part of the Audio Curios series. Radio Collection Developer Gareth Watkins regularly comes across interesting, unique, and sometimes downright puzzling bits of audio during his accessioning work. He’s going to share some of these audio treasures with you in the Audio Curios series, which will be posted here on the Gauge blog frequently.

Feature image: “Eyewitness News,” TVNZ, 24 May 1985

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