Thursday, October 13, 2011

Labour's hypocrisy on homophobia

DPF has a post today on Labour's rainbow policy [PDF]. The policy itself is good - allowing same sex adoption, removing the last vestiges of discrimination in law, eliminating homophobia in schools - and its what I'd expect to see from any political party. At the same time, you can't help but notice the irony. Labour points out that

Every New Zealander should be able to live a life of safety and dignity. Many GLBTI New Zealanders continue to be subject to insult, verbal and physical abuse, and to be made to feel inferior, most damagingly in schools. Too often, this results in high rates of self-harm and suicide amongst young GLBTI New Zealanders.
Meanwhile, prominent Labour MPs Trevor Mallard and Clayton Cosgrove engage in exactly this sort of homophobic abuse in the House [video; start at 2:30]. Other MPs, who I normally respect, will not condemn them, and even go so far as lying in public to deny this abuse takes place.

This is simply gutless. Labour needs to own its shit, recognise that eliminating homophobia begins at home, and start by eliminating its bigots. Their failure to do so undermines their credibility, and their entire policy. After all, how can politicians prohibit homophobia in schools, when they allow it amongst themselves? How can we say "its not OK", when Labour pretty obviously still thinks it is?

Update: Now that this is receiving media coverage, Labour's Grant Robertson is willing to stand up and condemn Mallard, though in fairly weak terms:

"Of course I don't think it's a good thing for Labour MPs to call Chris Finlayson Tinkerbell. It's silly statement. Just as it was for Tau Henare to give a prepared speech when he talked about Driving Miss Daisy with Charles Chauvel.

"I would not endorse them at all."

Good to hear it. If you want to make homophobia unacceptable, then you actually need to stand up against it in public - even when it comes from your mates.