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Is NZ ready for a gay PM?

Sunday 25 Aug 2013 5:25 p.m.

It's the big topic of political discussion this weekend: Is New Zealand ready for a gay prime minister?

Yesterday, former Labour Party president Mike Williams said probably not. Today, former Labour deputy prime minister Michael Cullen says yes, and he's explained why.

Mr Cullen backs Grant Robertson, gay or not.

“I'll be voting for Grant Robertson,” he says.

He says Mr Robertson's sexuality has never been an issue, and he could become the country's first gay Prime Minister.

“Grant's a man who talks straight and he thinks straight and he happens to be a gay man,” says Mr Cullen. “The first two things are important for a prime minister. The third is irrelevant.”

Labour Party MP Andrew Little won't be putting his hand up for the top job yet, and won't say who he's backing. But he did say Mr Robertson's sexuality won't hinder his leadership hopes.

“I think New Zealand's moved on,” says Mr Little. “I think most New Zealanders take people for who they are. It's not their identity it's what they do – their character, their personal values.”

Labour's chief whip, Chris Hipkins, agrees.

“I'm not defined by the fact I'm a white heterosexual bloke, so why should Grant Robertson be defined that he is gay?” asks Mr Hipkins.

Yesterday Mr Williams said some Labour supporters would resist Mr Robertson because he was openly gay, a surprise move that's now been backed up by Georgina Beyers, the world's first transsexual mayor and MP.

“I would like nothing better than to be proved wrong on this so go ahead and prove me wrong, but I think there are cold, hard political realities and unfortunately they need to be faced by Labour now,” she says.

Ms Beyers told 3 News voters in the Labour stronghold of south Auckland are already poised to walk away from the party in droves. She said a gay leader would be the final straw.

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