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Sunday 12 April 2015

From the Rainbow Wellington Forum: Kevin Hague

Posted in: Features
By Jacqui Stanford - 5th August 2014

Gay Green MP Kevin Hague addressed a few issues close to his heart at the Rainbow Wellington pre-election forum: health, trans rights, homophobic bullying and HIV prevention. He offered a concise rundown of some of the Greens’ lgbti priorities.

Hague began by proudly looking back on marriage equality, which he describes as a “stupendous achievement” and one “we were all part of”.

He joked to ‘big gay rainbow’ National MP Maurice Williamson “damn you for your speech, taking the attention away from my quite good speeches,” to laughs, then thanked him for his support.

Hague said marriage equality showed what could be achieved when people outside Parliament, and those inside it, worked together across party lines.

“Louisa [Wall] and I had bills in the ballot and we had pledged that whichever one was drawn first, we’d both work 100 per cent for. And that’s how it worked out.”

Hague told those gathered the Green Party stands by its pledge to implement all of the recommendations of To Be Who I Am, the Transgender Inquiry.

“We supported a failed attempt in this parliamentary term to alter the Human Rights Act. And that will be one of the things that we come back to.”

Hague has already supported a push from the community, led by advocate Tom Hamilton, for health services to be trans-friendly. “That will be a priority for us after the election.”

The Greens spokesman also pointed, with pride, to colleague Jan Logie’s advocacy for trans prisoners, who now have the right to apply to be in the prison that fits their gender identity.

“And Jan’s also developed a bill that will take the Irish legal position of making legal gender self-defining. So you’re not assigned a gender by someone else, you get to decide.”

Hague was clear he remains hot on the issue of homophobic bullying in schools. “It seems to me that despite all of the progress that we’ve made, it’s completely unacceptable that coming out today is not necessarily any easier than it was for me coming out in the 1970s.”

He wants to see specific lgbti suicide prevention work. He believes “the thing that makes the biggest difference is prevention” when it comes to the health of lgbti youth, adding peer-led programmes like Rainbow Youth and queer straight alliances really make a difference in terms of reaching out.

“But in the big picture the thing that makes a difference is the empowerment of the community to which people belong, and how supportive the environment is around them.”

Hague said addressing prejudices and discrimination young people are facing all the time is another important factor.

He still has an adoption bill waiting in the wings. He says we have sorted out “most” of the adoption issues for our community through marriage equality, and there is legal precedent that even unmarried same-sex couples should be able to adopt too. However he points out “it shouldn’t need to go to court. And if we’re in government we’ll address that immediately.”

He said the Bill of Rights should bind the Government and take precedence over other legislation, and that New Zealand’s constitution should entrench protection for human rights.

When it comes to homophobia in sport, he says he will continue to speak out when homophobic slurs are reported and dismissed as “just part of the game”. He states it’s not just part of the game and “we want that out of our sport”. He said the Greens have urged more sports stars to come out, which hasn’t happened so far.

Hague also pointed to “Jan Logie’s motion in the House that challenged Russia in advance of the Winter Olympics.”

When it comes to the long-gone Rainbow Desk, Hague said he was sceptical about the ability of any one desk to make a big impact “but surely that’s better than nothing”.

A former Executive Director of the New Zealand AIDS Foundation, Hague also pointed out that many people are unaware that the risk of contracting HIV is actually at its highest now. “Because actually what’s happened is that over time we’ve had more and more people living with HIV in this country. So the probability is just climbing and climbing and climbing … So that’s a bit of a problem isn’t it? Because actual risk is the highest that it’s ever been. Perception of risk, is probably the lowest that it’s ever been, therefore probability of using condoms, using safe sex, is probably the lowest that it’s been since some time in the 1990s. That is a massive problem.”

He pointed out many in the room were part of an HIV experience where many of their friends died, that was a bit like a wartime experience. “Thankfully most people right now have been spared that, because we actually have fantastic work going into developing new treatments which actually have extended people’s quality of life and quantity of life way beyond what used to be possible. But here’s the scary thing, because of the nature of the virus it’s constantly mutating. And it will mutate its way around the treatments that we have available now. So we will go back into a time when we actually no longer have effective treatments. And there are many, many time as many people living with HIV. There is a bad time ahead unless there is some actually unexpected breakthrough in HIV medicines. So what that says for us is we need massive investment in prevention.”

Hague also expressed concern that there appear to be few glbti pre-election forums planned this year. “Our community has a vital interest in the outcome of this election. So we need to be encouraging our community to get engaged with these issues. Keep those who are not enrolled, enrolled, and those who are enrolled voting.”

He appealed for the party vote for the Green Party, and says to a general audience the message is “for a cleaner environment, for a fairer society, for a smarter economy”.

“But to you I would say party vote Green because our policy’s the best. All of our MPs have voted for all of the issues that are important to our communities, every time. And also as I hope I’ve just indicated to you, the Green Party’s been prepared to do the heavy lifting on our issues. So please, party vote Green.”

In a nutshell:

  • The Greens have a history of all MPs voting in favour of lgbti reforms
  • Pledges to implement all of the Transgender Inquiry recommendations
  • Bullying in schools and lgbti youth mental health are priorities
  • Funding for HIV prevention work is crucial
  • Would tidy up adoption laws
Jacqui Stanford - 5th August 2014

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