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Because... Colonisation, D'uh

In parliament on Tuesday night, the Criminal Records (Expunging of Convictions for Historical Homosexual Offenses) Bill triggered a veritable orgy of virtue signalling. MPs from the government and opposition benches vied to outdo each other in their rush to pin their colours to the mast of the good ship tolerance.

The Bill was always going to be a wave through in this day and age, and rightly so. Nevertheless, the debate kept hinting at how many, particularly on the government benches, seemed to sense that this was more of a starting point than the achievement the opposition was happy to acknowledge. Andrew Little referred to 'putting right wrongs of the past'. One wondered what precedent was being set and what future legislation it will usher in. Chris Bishop for National hailed the passing of the Bill, but noted that he had had concerns about 'rewriting history', the only remark all evening which suggested that there had been even the slightest push back against this Bill as it navigated the system, other than deciding not to provide compensation.

Several speakers made reference to wider LGBT rights and trans rights. Time will tell where this goes, but you just know they don’t want to stop at 'tolerance'. My mind wandered. I pictured a situation many decades hence where New Zealand had gone far down the diversity, 'tolerance' and social justice road and legislated accordingly. Straight, white males were actively discriminated against in law. The country descended into a Marxist-controlled hellhole. Then the people woke up and tossed these modern day roundheads out and restored New Zealand to its former glory. I imagined a subsequent government expunging the criminal records of various 'hate crime' perpetrators who had questioned the promoting of sex changes to children or championed traditional marriage. Then a teary-eyed parliament spent two hours eulogising as a slew of laws disadvantaging a generation of straight, white men were swept from the statute book, a ministerial apology made, and MPs looked forward to a bright future where these individuals took up leadership positions and were treated as equals...

Eventually, Louisa Wall of Labour put the tinfoil hat on it all, by informing us that criminalisation of homosexuality was all the fault of colonisation.  Apparently, she schooled us, the 32 Commonwealth countries in which homosexuality is still illegal only adopt this stance due to the nefarious influence of Mother England.  So decades of independence, during which most of these countries have reveled in throwing off the chains of colonialism at every opportunity, have resulted in virtually zero movement on anti-gay laws and indeed the stiffening of many. In 2006 Zimbabwe made it a crime for same-sex people to so much as hold hands and life for gay men there is apparently intolerable. Presumably this is due to the Zimbabwean government clinging fondly to the memory of its time as a British colony - yeah, right.


About the author

Items on the Balustrade is a pseudonym used by our correspondent in parliament's press gallery.