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Saturday 11 April 2015

Election 2014: Lgbti candidates

Posted in: Features
By Jacqui Stanford - 20th September 2014

Lgbti candidates are standing in electorates from Whangarei to Southland this election, and the range is not only geographically wide: in the running are two openly-transgender political hopefuls, a celibate gay Catholic man and gay candidates for ACT and United Future.

Whangarei, Labour: Kelly Ellis

The outspoken lawyer and TransAdvocates co-founder is one of two openly-trans candidates this election, and she’s been extra loud with her message in Whangarei thanks to a megaphone.

Ellis is passionate about human rights and has fought time and again for transgender clients, and was integral in getting the transgender prison policy sorted.

She says her interest in politics not only stems from a desire to see justice reforms, but also to ensure that young people - her sons included - have the same opportunities for education and work that she did.

Ellis lives in Whangarei with her wife. In her first run as a candidate, she is 52nd on Labour’s list.

“I don't think it's so much that my voice is important in Parliament, but any voice that can articulate the needs of the people up here on Struggle Street.”

Upper Harbour, ACT: Stephen Berry

Sixth on the ACT list, Stephen Berry lives with his partner John on the North Shore.

He’s worked for much of the last sixteen years in the food industry, currently as a retail manager for Countdown supermarkets. He has also been involved in politics for nearly as many years, most recently standing for the Auckland mayoralty in 2013 where he finished third. His advocacy in that election of lower rates, balanced budgets and private property rights fits well with ACT’s philosophy.

Stephen applies ACT’s principles of enterprise, hard work, personal responsibility to his daily life. He believes resolutely that the only positive future for people is the one they build for themselves.

“I believe in individual freedom and aspirations, so I avoid putting individuals into particular categories, whether they are based on sex, race or orientation.”

Northcote, United Future: Damian Light

Running against Hills in Northcote is another young gay man, Damian Light, who is third on the United Future list.

Light says he loves UnitedFuture because it’s “a truly centre party”. He says its policies are driven by the best outcome for New Zealand, not a specific left or right-wing ideology

He lives in Beach Haven with his partner and works for KiwiRail as a process and training manager – transport is an area he’s passionate about.

“Coming out is still a very tough experience for many people, even in 2014, which says we’re not the open and fair society we could be.”

Northcote, Labour: Richard Hills

One of Labour’s young guns, Hills was first drawn to politics while in high school as he studied Workers Rights laws and the Civil Union Bill and its process through parliament at the time. He says his values seemed to fit with Labour, as he believes in fighting for others and putting people first.

The Northcote local has twice been elected to the Kaipatiki Local Board and works as a Community Health Worker at the Auckland Sexual Health Education Unit. One of his passions is getting people enrolled and having their say in elections.

“Northcote had been a Labour seat up until 2005, so I am keen to turn it red once again, but turning out the vote is crucial.”

Hills is 47th on the Labour list.

Manurewa, Labour: Louisa Wall

Louisa Wall’s first full term in parliament is so packed with achievements we’ll just offer a summary: marriage equality, working with Jan Logie to stand up against hate and homophobia in Uganda, ensuring a young woman could get both her mums’ names on her birth certificate and making a damn good effort to try and get transgender people firmly protected from discrimination.

Like the majority of our sitting MPs, she has also been quick to stand up against homophobia and ignorance here at home.

She’s the incumbent in Manurewa, regarded as a Labour safe seat, but says opponents have tried to use her sexuality and work on marriage equality against her.

Wall is 12th on the Labour list. She lives in Manurewa with her partner Prue.

On marriage equality: “When I first got together with my partner, 29 years ago, the message sent by the law could not have been clearer; we were outsiders and did not belong. Today Parliament has sent a message to the rainbow community that we do belong without having to compromise who we are.”

Rotorua, Labour: Tamati Coffey

The most high-profile of the new candidates, the former TV presenter has embraced his first love, politics, in a tilt to claim the Rotorua seat back for Labour.

Labour’s pro-glbti history is one of the reasons he loves the party, but he says allegiance was never really a question. He grew up in Lower Hutt in a Labour-voting family, with parents who worked in factories - and a mum who was always involved with the unions, and says he has always been a Labour person at heart.

Coffey is 30th on the Labour list and lives in Rotorua with his partner Tim.


“I just kept smiling and kept doing the weather, whereas this has actually given me the chance to actually get out there and actually get the chance to start piping up and letting my voice be heard.”

Taranaki-King Country, Greens: Robert Moore

He doesn’t have a list spot that might nab him a place in Parliament, but he could well be a Greens voice of the future,

Moore believes Aotearoa needs a dramatic change in direction.

He feels that attacks on the poor and on the environment are grossly inappropriate and only demonstrate outdated ideas on the role and priorities of government.

He says we need a government that believes that investing in people and in the environment is paramount and wants leadership to act on climate change.

Ikaroa Rawhiti, Labour, Meka Whaitiri

Whaitiri replaced the respected Parekura Horomia in the Maori seat, and came into Parliament with a strong Maori governance background and sound knowledge of how Government works.

She was born and raised in Hawke’s Bay and was Head Girl at Karamu High School and played both netball and softball at a national level. She started work at the local freezing works and went on to complete a Master’s degree in Education from Victoria University.

Whaitiri lives in Hawke’s Bay with her partner and two teenage sons.

Otaki, Greens: Maddy Drew

Drew is a public servant who was drawn to politics while at university, where she helped UniQ organise a counter demonstration to the Destiny Church anti-civil union rallies.

Legal equality and protection, health access, mental health support and suicide prevention, especially for our young people, are lgbti issues she feels are most important right now.

“The Greens have the best policies in regards to human rights and our community.”

Mana, Greens: Jan Logie

Another first-term high flyer who has waved the rainbow flag in Parliament time and time again. Among her work has been driving a motion against Russia’s homophobia, working with Louisa Wall to take a stand in Uganda, speaking out against a Human Rights Commission funding freeze and being an important political force in getting trans prisoners the right to apply to be housed in the prisons which fit their identity.

And is always ready to speak out against homophobia and transphobia here and overseas and is always passionate when she addresses parliament.

Like the majority of our lgbti MPs she is also friendly and approachable and ready to help out if you have an issue.

With the way the Greens are polling, she should be back in the next term.

“I stand here today as a leftie, feminist lesbian,” – maiden speech.

Wellington Central, Labour: Grant Robertson

One of highest-ranked members of the Labour Party with a heavy portfolio, Robertson is a hard worker and a sharp debater, who many have pegged as the next party leader.

On being gay, the former NZAF Trustee stated in his maiden speech to Parliament: "I am proud and comfortable with who I am. Being gay is part of who I am, just as is being a former diplomat, a fan of the mighty...Wellington Lions, and a fan of New Zealand music and New Zealand literature.

"My political view is defined by my sexuality only inasmuch as it has given me an insight into how people can be marginalised and discriminated against, and how much I abhor that. I am lucky that I have largely grown up in a generation that is not fixated on issues such as sexual orientation. I am not - and neither should others be."

Robertson is in a civil union with his partner, Alf.

Te Tai Tonga, Internet Mana: Georgina Beyer

A woman who needs no introduction, the outspoken former Labour MP is looking to make a comeback via the Mana Party.

Beyer has a trailblazing history as the world’s first trans mayor, then in 1999 famously beat Paul Henry in Wairapara to become the world's first trans MP. She remained in Parliament as a Labour MP until 2007.

She says standing for Mana is her way of making amends to Maori for voting for the foreshore and seabed bill, something she says broke her.

And she has blazed the campaign trail, not afraid to share her concerns about Internet Party founder Kim Dotcom.

On the threat of Colin Craig and the Conservatives: "our glbti equality gains could be stalled, even reversed.”

Nelson, Labour: Maryan Street

A firm defender of human rights, Maryan Street is among the highly-ranked out Labour MPs who we expect to see back in Parliament.

The former teacher has been an MP since 2005 and is passionate about

fairness for all, and New Zealand’s role in the world.

She believes there are a number of ways in which New Zealand can continue to “punch above its weight” in the international community, and taking a stand in the Commonwealth is one of them.

Street has also warned against complacency here at home: “I think it is absolutely incumbent on all of us, constantly, to be watching our backs, to make sure that the gains that we’ve fought for are retained and that we continue to push the boundaries forward.”

West Coast, Greens: Kevin Hague

A wise head who has brought his years of activism for our communities into Parliament, we will see Hague back as an MP in the upcoming term.

He was a key cog in the marriage equality battle, throwing his support behind Labour’s Louisa Wall to get it done.

The former New Zealand AIDS Foundation boss is knowledgeable on HIV issues, wants to get adoption laws sorted once and for all and is incredibly passionate about is the plight of lgbti youth – recently releasing a report showing just a third of schools have policies around homophobic bullying, and barely any acknowledge gender diversity at all.

“The safety and wellbeing of young people is a matter of extreme public interest.”

Hague lives near Greymouth with his partner.

Christchurch Central, Labour: Tony Milne

Community advocate Tony Milne helped co-ordinate the civil union campaign when he worked for MP Tim Barnett.

He was also involved in the more recent campaign for marriage equality and also helped set up Christchurch’s queer youth group Q-Topia, which he’s also been on the board of.

The former youth worker has been active in the Labour Party since 1999 and was the campaign manager for Jim Anderton’s Mayoral bid in Christchurch in 2010. He was the national manager of public health at the Problem Gambling Foundation, and is a JP.

Milne had a civil union with his partner Nic at Christchurch’s Botanic Gardens in 2008.

“I made a deliberate decision that I wanted to stay in Christchurch and help rebuild my city and the lives of the people here. I believe I can make a positive difference and help to create a better city.”

Clutha-Southland, Greens, Rachael Goldsmith

Bisexual Greens candidate Rachael Goldsmith is standing in the Clutha-Southland electorate. She is an advocate for animal rights, disability, LGBTI and women's issues.

Rachael was born and raised in Invercargill by her Christian family and always knew that her world-view was aligned with left-wing ideology.

She saw the Greens as real, and openly compassionate, and was inspired by our Co-Leader Meitiria Turei's story and presence in Parliament. Rachael was also deeply inspired by Sue Bradford's fight to protect children from legalised violence, which was the main reason she joined the Greens.

She currently lives in Heidelberg, Invercargill, and in her spare time raises foster kittens for her local SPCA.

Rongotai National, Chris Finlayson

One of the most powerful gay men in the country is the Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson, who has gained respect for his hard work on securing Treaty of Waitangi deals.

Finlayson is a former lawyer who entered Parliament in 2005, and is ranked eighth on the National Party list.

The only out National MP, who notoriously does not give personal interviews, once told a gay audience he is an "odd fish", as he is gay as well as Catholic, has no partner and is celibate.

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Jacqui Stanford - 20th September 2014

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