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The Bill: Launch, Discussion and Film Screening


Tue 9 Feb 2016, 6:00pm–8:00pm

Where: Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, Cnr Kitchener and Wellesley Streets, CBD, Auckland

Restrictions: All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Admission: Free

This screening is presented in partnership with Artspace, as part of the Auckland Pride Festival.

Artspace director Misal Adnan Yildiz will launch his curatorial project, "The Bill," and also invite Paula Booker to talk about the archival film screening on the law reform titled "Thin Edge of the Wedge: Homosexual Law Reform in Aotearoa New Zealand (1985-1986)" from Ngā Taonga Sound and Vision.

*"Thin Edge of the Wedge: Homosexual Law Reform in Aotearoa New Zealand (1985-1986)"*

To observe the 30th anniversary of homosexual law reform in Aotearoa, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision has compiled a special screening programme that will take the viewer back to the heated meetings, street rallies and debates that began almost immediately after the introduction of the bill into Parliament on 8 March 1985.

Labour MP Fran Wilde’s Homosexual Law Reform Bill was not the first attempt at law reform. There had been a number of reform attempts in Parliament starting in the 1970s, preceded by years of action by community groups seeking equality.

Fran Wilde’s bill set out to decriminalise homosexual activity between adult consenting males and make it illegal to discriminate against anyone based on their sexual orientation. It took 16 months to make its way through Parliament. In that time there were numerous public events – both for and against reform – held throughout the country. Many of these were featured in television news bulletins, and now form the main part of this screening programme.

From large street rallies in Wellington and Christchurch, to an emotionally charged meeting on the North Shore, people across the country debated questions of morality, the age of consent, the impact of AIDS, the right to discriminate, and whether law reform – in the words of Labour MP Geoff Braybrooke – “could well lead to gay bars, gay massage parlours, gay churches, gay marriages… and gay people adopting children.”

Labelled by Braybrooke as the "thin edge of the wedge" homosexual law reform, this quickly turned into a much wider societal debate amongst such diverse groups as the Coalition of Concerned Citizens, Heterosexuals Unafraid of Gays (HUG), the Campaign for Tolerance, and the Salvation Army.

The Salvation Army took a firm stand against law reform and backed the nationwide anti-reform petition. Petition footage is prominently featured in the screening programme along with MPs Norman Jones, Graeme Lee, Geoff Braybrooke, and the bill’s sponsor Fran Wilde.

The screening also features Peter Wall (Auckland Gay Task Force), Bill Logan (Gay Task Force), Neil Costelloe, Rob Lake, Jon Lusk, Cherry Raymond (Campaign for Tolerance), Stephen Jacobs (HUG), John Massam (Challenge Weekly), Barry Reed and Bill Subritzky (Coalition of Concerned Citizens), John Kennedy (The New Zealand Tablet), Pastor Richard Flinn, Rev. Peter Beck, and the visiting Rev. Lou Sheldon – founder of the Traditional Values Coalition in the United States.

Juxtaposed with the mainstream media coverage are a number of excerpts from a private recording filmed in Auckland, which highlight the work and energy from the many lesbians and indigenous peoples in the campaign for equality.

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