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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 39, Number 21, September 6, 1976.

Open Letter to Venn Young M.P

Open Letter to Venn Young M.P.

Dear Mr Young,

On Saturday July 24, 1976, nine members, myself included, of Gay Liberation Wellington were picketing the National Party Conference at the Sportsdrome, Rotorua, At 7.45 pm we were circulating our petition which states:

"We, the undersigned members and delegates of the National Party, support the repeal of ail anti-homosexual laws, and the passing of a law banning discrimination against gays."

When I approached you for your signature, you disregarded the petition and said:

"You people are doing more harm than good to the cause. Why don't you just go away?"

No Mr Young we will not just go away, back into our closets to lead an oppressed existence. We refuse to put up with the humiliation of the pallid tokens of liberal tolerance any longer.

We demand acceptance, to be allowed to live our lives the way we choose, to be allowed to fulfil ourselves as human beings. We demand our full civil, social and legal rights. Rights accorded to all people but denied to gays by the oppressive, uneducated, patriarchal legal and social structure of our society.

We exist, Mr Young, an undeniable fact. An estimated 100,000 women and men in New Zealand alone. We will not be just a nagging doubt in the back of your mind. We will protest. We will not let you ignore or forget us any longer.

It has been four years since your reform Bill was introduced. That mediocre concession to appease your conscience for which you seem to feel we should be so grateful.

This was only a small step towards full human equality. During the four years of consistent evasion, gays continued to suffer blackmail, muggings, deportation, prison and the other smaller oppressions and agonies finally forcing many to take their own lifes as the only way of escape. A situation comparable to that of those undergoing other forms of torture (e.g. captured resistance workers).

With growing anger we resignedly forced ourselves to watch a small glimmer of candle light in a far-away window burn itself out by being neglected in the "agonizing sould-searching that accompanied this moral question". It is not a moral question. It never has been and never will be. It is a question of basic human rights as demanded in the Geneva Convention.

If for a moment, Mr Young, you could force yourself to climb from your lofty position of benevolent benefactor, down to the position society imposes upon us and ponder your reactions to such an unjust ignorant of our only too real survival. To understand our anger, Mr Young, you must first experience our oppression and suffering, for experience is knowledge.

You question our need to protest in an effor to educate the general public and the lawmakers of our country in an attempt to right the unhumerable wrongs and seek an enlightened viewpoint. When attmepts at law repeal through the proper channels fail due to acute reaction from our lawmakers, history has shown that direct confrontation is the next step in our fight for full equality and human rights.

We refuse to hide any longer. We are proud of our gayness. But we are discontented at the failure of the government and the people to recognise Our reasonable and just demands, i.e. repeal of all anti-homosexual laws, full parity with heterosexuals before the law and an end to discrimination in areas of citizenship, employment and housing, etc.

Polls have shown overwhelming public support for law change; why do our lawmakers lag behind the wishes of the people they represent?


Alan Seymour.