Ex-MP: We’ve Moved On
Zealand Herald, June 19, 2004
P.O. Box 32, Auckland, New Zealand
By Helen Tunnah, Deputy Political Editor
Almost 20 years on, the woman vilified for leading the
liberalisation of homosexual law cannot understand why there is such a fuss
over civil unions.
Fran Wilde was pilloried for spearheading the 1985
Homosexual Law Reform Bill.
The 16-month debate about the bill polarised the country,
and sparked violent demonstrations and angry rallies at Parliament.
Ms Wilde told the Weekend Herald she is writing a book
reliving the emotions of the battle to overturn the law which made sexual acts
between men illegal.
It will recount the bomb and death threats she received,
the hate mail she labels “filth” but also the courage of those in the gay
community who spoke out publicly.
Virulent opponents included the so-called “moral
majority” which Ms Wilde condemned as representing a fundamentalist
Christian view opposed not only to gay rights, but also to women’s and
She and supporters enlisted the help of moderate churches
to combat an advertising campaign that claimed families were at risk, teenage
boys would be sodomised and Aids would sweep the country.
The scene at Parliament as a petition purportedly signed
by 800,000 people asking that the bill be thrown out was reported as
resembling Nazi Germany—with its flag-waving, children in
brigade uniforms and national anthem singing.
Ms Wilde admits she was frightened. “It was quite scary
stuff that day because here was the face of bigotry right there in front of
Parliament. The MPs were quite spooked by that sort of thing in New
Now she predicts a more tolerant society will accept