NGĀ TAONGA SCREENING. THIN EDGE OF THE WEDGE

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Thin Edge of the Wedge - Homosexual Law Reform in Aotearoa New Zealand (1985-1986)

To mark the 30th anniversary of homosexual law reform in Aotearoa New Zealand, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision has compiled a special screening programme that will take the viewer back to the heated meetings, street rallies and debates that began almost immediately after the introduction of the bill into Parliament on 8 March 1985.

Labour MP Fran Wilde’s Homosexual Law Reform Bill was not the first attempt at law reform. There had been a number of reform attempts in Parliament starting in the 1970s, preceded by years of action by community groups seeking equality.

Fran Wilde’s bill set out to decriminalise homosexual activity between adult consenting males and make it illegal to discriminate against anyone based on their sexual orientation. It took 16 months to make its way through Parliament. In that time there were numerous public events - both for and against reform - held throughout the country. Many of these were featured in television news bulletins and now form the main part of this screening programme.

From large street rallies in Wellington and Christchurch to an emotionally charged meeting on the North Shore people across the country debated questions of morality, the age of consent, the impact of AIDS, the right to discriminate and whether law reform, in the words of Labour MP Geoff Braybrooke, “could well lead to gay bars, gay massage parlours, gay churches, gay marriages…and gay people adopting children.”

Labelled by Braybrooke as the ‘thin edge of the wedge’ homosexual law reform quickly turned into a much wider societal debate amongst such diverse groups as the Coalition of Concerned Citizens, Heterosexuals Unafraid of Gays (HUG), the Campaign for Tolerance and the Salvation Army.

The Salvation Army took a firm stand against law reform and backed the nationwide anti-reform petition. Petition footage is prominently featured in the screening programme along with MPs Norman Jones, Graeme Lee, Geoff Braybrooke and the bill’s sponsor Fran Wilde.

The screening also features Peter Wall (Auckland Gay Task Force), Bill Logan (Gay Task Force), Neil Costelloe, Rob Lake, Jon Lusk, Cherry Raymond (Campaign for Tolerance), Stephen Jacobs (HUG), John Massam (Challenge Weekly), Barry Reed and Bill Subritzky (Coalition of Concerned Citizens), John Kennedy (The New Zealand Tablet), Pastor Richard Flinn, Rev. Peter Beck and the visiting Rev. Lou Sheldon – founder of the Traditional Values Coalition in the United States.

Juxtaposed with the mainstream media coverage are a number of excerpts from a private recording filmed in Auckland by the Auckland Women’s Community Video Collective that highlights the work and energy from the many lesbians and indigenous peoples in the campaign for equality.

Running order:

0:00:12
MP Fran Wilde (Wellington Central, Labour Party)
Televised public debate
Sunday, 1985, Television New Zealand, F80159

0:01:05
Campaign to oppose the Homosexual Law Reform Bill, Auckland
Features Tom Roest (Auckland petition organiser) and MP Graeme Lee (Hauraki, National Party)
Eyewitness news, 11 April 1985, Television New Zealand, F80137

0:03:01
The anti-homosexual law reform petition in schools, Wellington
Features Tony Steele (PPTA) and MP Graeme Lee
6.30 news, 27 March 1985, Television New Zealand, F62356

0:04:21
Picketing the Salvation Army, Wellington
Features Neil Costelloe
6.30 news, 31 March 1985, Television New Zealand, F62403

0:05:22
John Kennedy (editor of The New Zealand Tablet)
Televised public debate
Sunday, 1985, Television New Zealand, F80159

0:08:28
North Shore meeting, Auckland
Features Peter Wall (Auckland Gay Task Force), Pastor Richard Flinn and MP Norman Jones (Invercargill, National Party)
Eyewitness news, 11 April 1985, Television New Zealand, F80137

0:10:02
Is this man a danger to society?
Features Pastor Richard Flinn and Peter Wall
Top half, 11 April 1985, Television New Zealand, F57594

0:11:53
Anti-homosexual law reform petition gatherers face abuse on the street, Wellington
Features Mark McKenna and Tom Bennett (CUF - Catholics United for the Faith)
6.30 news 11 April 1985, Television New Zealand, F57594

0:13:23
Anti-homosexual law reform rally in Christchurch
Features MP Norman Jones
6.30 news 14 April 1985, Television New Zealand, F80156

0:14:55
Lesbian visibility, co-ordinating street stalls in the Auckland area
Features Jane Adams
1985, Auckland Women’s Community Video Collective, F55514

0:17:24
Anti-homosexual law reform rally, Wellington Town Hall
Features MP Graeme Lee
Eyewitness news, 15 April 1985, F80231

0:18:17
Meeting of the Church and Society Commission of the National Council of Churches
Features Reverend Peter Beck
6.30 news, 12 April 1985, Television New Zealand, F57595

0:19:38
Public submissions on the Homosexual Law Reform Bill close
Eyewitness news, 26 April 1985, Television New Zealand, F80402

0:20:26
Presentation to the Statutes Revision Committee: combating the spread of AIDS
Features Bill Logan (Gay Task Force)
6.30 news, 18 June 1985, Television New Zealand, F83217

0:21:24
Pro-homosexual law reform march in Wellington
Eyewitness news, 24 May 1985, Television New Zealand, F81839

0:22:10
Lesbian energy during the campaign
Features Sandy Hall
1985, Auckland Women’s Community Video Collective, F55514

0:25:07
Pro-homosexual law reform rally, Auckland Town Hall
Features Mahinārangi Tocker and co.
24 May 1985, F55516

0:26:43
A self defence course for gay men is established following an increase in gay bashings in Wellington
Features Phillip Peek, Neil Costelloe and Rob Lake
Eyewitness news, 5 June 1985, Television New Zealand, F82229

0:29:31
Launch of HUG (Heterosexuals Unafraid of Gays) in Auckland
Features Stephen Jacobs
Eyewitness news, 18 June 1985, Television New Zealand, F83218

0:32:21
A small group discuss homosexual law reform from a Māori and Pacific Island lesbian perspective
1985, Auckland Women’s Community Video Collective, F55514

0:36:20
Reverend Lou Sheldon (Traditional Values Coalition) visits New Zealand
Eyewitness news, 6 August 1985, Television New Zealand, F85163

0:39:05
MP Fran Wilde
Televised public debate
Sunday, 1985, Television New Zealand, F80159

0:41:53
Launch of Campaign for Tolerance in Auckland
Features Cherry Raymond and Barbara Goodman (Campaign for Tolerance)
Top half, 18 September 1985, Television New Zealand, F87198

0:44:24
Pro-homosexual law reform march in Wellington
Features Neil Costelloe
Eyewitness news, 13 September 1985, Television New Zealand, F86286

0:45:00
Presentation of the anti-homosexual law reform petition to Parliament
Features MP Fran Wilde, MP Norman Jones and MP Graeme Lee
6.30 news, 24 September 1985, Television New Zealand, F87267

0:47:30
A look at Christian political activism and the rise of the moral majority
Features John Massam (Challenge Weekly), Bill Subritzky (Auckland Coalition of Concerned Citizens)
Close up, 26 September 1985, Television New Zealand, F87271

0:51:07
MP Geoff Braybrooke (Napier, Labour Party)
Televised public debate
Sunday, 1985, Television New Zealand, F80159

0:54:29
“You are an illegal citizen”
Features Jon Lusk
Close up, 28 March 1985, Television New Zealand, F57580

0:56:20
Debate on the age of consent
Features MP George Gair (North Shore, National Party), Bill Logan, MP Fran Wilde and MP Geoff Braybrooke
Eyewitness news, 5 November 1985, Television New Zealand, F88700

0:59:47
Loss of part 2 (anti discrimination measures) of the Homosexual Law Reform Bill
Features Bill Logan, MP David Butcher (Hastings, Labour Party), MP Graeme Lee and MP Fran Wilde
6.30 news, 17 April 1986, Television New Zealand, F91630

1:02:41
Reviewing the final vote (9 July) on the Homosexual Law Reform Bill
6.30 news, 11 July 1986, Television New Zealand, F91974

1:04:41
The Coalition of Concerned Citizens will continue its fight
Features Barry Reed (Coalition of Concerned Citizens) and MP John Banks (Whangarei, National Party)
6.30 news, 10 July 1986, Television New Zealand, F58082

1:06:30
Talkback: when will the bashings stop?
Features Thomas Shelley and Peter Wall.
Newsline, 11 July 1986, Television New Zealand, F58083

1:08:08
Interview with MP Fran Wilde after the partial passing of the Homosexual Law Reform Bill
Sunday, 13 July 1986, Television New Zealand, F91980

This programme was curated by Gareth Watkins

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Year 2016

Reference number F250535

Collection Film and Video Collection

Media type Moving Image

Place of Production NEW ZEALAND/AOTEAROA

Genre Ngā taonga screening

Duration 1:12:53

Production company Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision