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Salient. Victoria University Students' Newspaper. Volume 39, Number 23. September 20, 1976

Gay Liberation Conference — What Gay Liberation Does

page 15

Gay Liberation Conference

What Gay Liberation Does

Many gays claim that they're not oppressed. They may rationalise their position by denying the importance of sexual classifications and find a million and one reasons not to identify with the Gay Liberation Movement. Yet it is true that these same gays are very careful to avoid being seen in company of so called 'blatant gays". Yes, our oppression is often subtle and insidious.

Gays are to be found everywhere on the spectrum of jobs and careers that exist in this society and yet at any time their credence, integrity and means of support are in jeopardy. This is why and whenever possible, we encourage gays to be more open with their fellow workers, friends and acquaintences.

When Venn Young's Crimes Amendment Bill was defeated last year gay people everywhere felt stunned and at a complete loss. The Gay Liberation Movement throughout New Zealand (including Wgtn) collapsed.

However, in response to Muldoon's victory and with the understanding that a long struggle lay before us, a number of activists reorganised Gay Liberation in April this year.

Our fortnightly meetings held on campus, attended by up to forty-five people have been the organising base. Meetings have also been educative with discussions taking place with such groups as the radical feminists and members of the Wellington "drag community".

Our various action groups have included a political group, a married gays groups, a group of "blatant gays", a public relations group and a literature group.

The activities of the public relations group have included discussions with high school classes, trainee nurses, marriage guidance councillors, social workers, and Youth Line councillors. It has also done a survey of telephone services throughout Wellington and it has sent a questionairre to GPs in the Wellington area asking among other things, their attitude to homosexuality. The full results of this will be known in a fortnight.

The literature group has contacted libraries and bookshops presenting them with lists of pro-gay books. It has reported a very positive attitude from libraries and bookshops contacted.

Groups have combined for such activities as the writing of a questionaire to MPs, the organisation of Gay Pride Week and other political activities.

Gay Pride Week (Aug 8-14) activities proved successful attracting nearly 300 people and received publicity from the media in the form of radio talk-back programmes, interviews with the radio and a ten minute slot on "Tonight at Nine"

The political groups first activity was to picket, leaflet and distribute a petition at the Labour Party Conference in May. It provided the Gay Movement with the first significant media coverage since the COWA activities last year. Within the Conference a remit proposing that the Labour Party have a policy of homosexual law repeal was only "narrowly defeated". We view this as significant.

We voted to send a contingent with the women's pro-abortion march at the opening of Parliament, identifying our struggle for the right to control our bodies with that of the abortion movement.

A group of mine travelled to Rotorua to pciket the National Party Conference. It proved an interesting and entertaining experience for us. Prior to the rally for 'Our Leader' we picketed and leafletted in support of our demands. Comments from those attending included:

'Yuk'

and 'I don't support perversion'. Two people claimed they couldn't sign our petition as they could neither read nor write. It seems that the education cuts are even affecting the National Party.

At our last meeting we voted in support of the abortion march, to mark women's Suffrage Day, on September 17th. We will have marched under the banner "Free Our Sisters - Free Ourselves" by the date of the publishing of these articles.

Gay Liberation in Wellington has developed a wide base of support this year and it is with this authroity that we are to be hosting the National Gay Liberation Conference to be held on campus over Labour Weekend.

It's format includes on the Saturday a closed women's workshop and an open men's workshop. That same day all groups report back to the main conference. In the evening there is a wine and cheese organised. Sunday's activities comprise in the morning a discussion of strategy, and remits for actions will come up before the Conference. In the afternoon there will be a forum open to the public and the media featuring representatives from many organisations speaking in support of our demands.

It is hoped that national actions will come out fo the conference along with the organisation of a national petition, laying the foundations for a strong gay movement next year.

With Muldoon's attacks on working people and Pacific Islanders, in view of government policy of cutbacks, with the existence of a strong abortion movement, and in view of the large anti-tour marches, this year the political climate has never been better for a strong gay movement in New Zealand.

It is with this in mind that we make the call: