Legalise Love call for gay rights in NZ
By Claire McCorkindale
Legalise Love is continuing its campaign for marriage and adoption equality, holding a celebration for countries that recognise marriage equality on August 9.
In recent weeks Wellington-based Legalise Love has again cast themselves in the public eye, launching a campaign in conjunction with retail chain Lush, that selling Freedom Soap and hosting a 'kiss and tell' booth.
With civil unions perceived by some to be a stepping-stone to equality, many in the queer community are now seeking full marriage equality.
"We find extending marriage and adoption rights to all adult consenting couples regardless of sex, sexuality or gender identity important for two reasons," says Legalise Love communications officer Joseph Habgood.
"Firstly, it’s just a basic human rights issue and it’s quite despicable to have these rights extended to one group but not another. Secondly, it’s the idea that Parliament is sending a message, and we’ve said this time and time again, that not all love is equal and not all New Zealanders are equal."
US President Barack Obama’s recent support of same-sex marriages in the United States has bought the issue to the forefront.
"We have never gone wrong when we've extended rights and responsibilities to everybody," said Obama. "That doesn't weaken families, that strengthens families."
Although New Zealand has its own 'religious right', there is a lack of mass-organised opposition to marriage and adoption equality, particularly in comparison to the United States.
"A large proportion of the nation sees this as a non-issue, believing that civil unions are sufficient," says Mr Habgood.
The challenge is also internal. Not all members of the queer community wish to be associated with marriage, and consequently organisations such as Legalise Love have had to change their approach to campaigning to account for all perspectives.
Homophobia and homophobic behaviour have had particular effect on the queer youth of New Zealand. One in 10 people identify as queer, and currently it is four times more likely for a queer youth to get bullied at school as a non-queer, and also six times more likely for them to commit suicide.
Eileen Walter, a leader of the Nayland High School Alliance of Gays and Straights, says: "It’s not like the issue doesn’t effect you. There are one in 10 people identifying as queer, and it’s incredibly common that someone in your family, one of your friends, someone you work with, is gay or queer or transgender."
Claire McCorkindale is a young writer-in-training for the 3 News ‘3Youth’ programme.