Today Parliament apologised to gay men convicted for homosexual offences decriminalised by the Homosexual Law Reform Act of 1986, an act championed by then Labour MP, Fran Wilde.
With a bill to pardon convictions for consensual acts in regards to an estimated 1,000 rainbow Kiwis also unanimously passing its first reading today, this is a move long overdue for our wider community, nation and our families.
Able to be awarded on behalf of the deceased, Labour's Grant Robertson highlighted the effect these convictions had on those who had them unjustly inflicted upon their lives.
"Hundreds, possibly thousands of lives have been lost because men could not bear the shame, the stigma and the hurt caused by this Parliament and the way that society viewed them as criminals."
The situation today
The statistics don’t lie when they tell us how little Bill English’s National Government cares about us in the Rainbow communities.
Despite HIV being a disease that could easily be stopped, there were more new diagnoses of HIV in New Zealand last year than ever before, according to the New Zealand AIDS Epidemiology Group in Dunedin.
Labour's commitment to our health
If elected into government, Labour will reverse the $1.7 billion worth of cuts to the health budget, which will allow us to restore funding to the agencies and systems that are designed to protect us, and help eliminate HIV in New Zealand by 2025.
To all who are gathered together today for the 2017 International Aids Candlelight Memorial I send my support and aroha. To Body Positive, Positive Women, the New Zealand AIDS Foundation and all those who help organise these events and undertake the important work on HIV and AIDS, I thank you.
Each year on this occasion my mind turns to the people of my generation who were young men and women as the world became aware of AIDS, and who did not survive into their middle age as I have. I mourn for them, and I think of their friends and families who saw them die from a disease we did not fully understand. Events like this and symbols like the quilts that have been made around the world are our public memorial to what are also deeply felt private losses. To those friends and family, please know that your loved ones are remembered.
Broadening access to HIV medicine will improve the lives of people living with HIV and will go a long way towards ending HIV in New Zealand. PHARMAC has proposed to expand access to medicines for people living with HIV by removing the CD4 threshold. This sort of expanded access to HIV medicine can reduce the chance of people living with HIV developing a serious illness, or dying, by 57%. It also substantially reduces the chance of onward transmission.
Rainbow Labour supports this proposal as it is in-line with our policy of providing the necessary support to end HIV in New Zealand by 2025. You can read our submission here.
The Rainbow NZ Parliamentary Network is today calling on the Government to speak out against the recent persecution of gay men in Indonesia including the recent public flogging of two men.
"Our democracy is founded on a clear separation of Church and State. The starting point is homosexual law reform. We need our government to advocate for this first principle human right for all people to live in the dignity of their LGBTIQ identity," said Labour Party MP Louisa Wall
The Rainbow NZ Parliamentary Network, a cross-party group of MPs, has written to the Minister of Foreign Affairs calling on him to ask Russia to investigate the detention and alleged murders of (perceived) gay men in Chechnya.
"There needs to be an immediate halt to the violence against the LGBTI community within Russian borders and the release of those detained," said Labour MP Louisa Wall. "The Russian Government must urgently investigate the arbitrary detention, torture and extra judicial killing of (perceived) gay and bisexual men in Chechnya.”
Earlier this week the New Zealand AIDS Foundation announced that, due to cuts in their funding, they are having to shed workers despite the surging rate of HIV diagnoses. These cuts are the result of years of National’s cuts to the health system.
Labour pledges to reverse the Government’s health budget cuts so we can provide broadened access to HIV medicines.
The Government has cut $1.7 billion from the health budget since 2010 and, as always, it’s the most vulnerable in our society who are bearing the brunt of it.