New Green Party MP Elizabeth Kerekere campaigns on problems facing the rainbow community. Photo / Provided
New Zealand now holds the title of most gay Parliament in the world.
Preliminary results yesterday showed there could be 12 open lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender members out of the 120 members sitting in the next Parliament – increasing the rainbow’s representation from seven years ago after the Labor Party wiped out after yesterday’s election.
The overall representation of the rainbow will be 10 percent – provided the Greens manage to retain the original 11 seats – past Britain which holds the title of the most gay Parliament currently with 7 percent representation.
In the UK, there are 45 openly gay members in the 650 members of the House of Commons.
Meanwhile, gay MPs who are open to the New Zealand Parliament who were recently elected include Labor candidates Grant Robertson, Louisa Wall, Meka Whaitiri, Tamati Coffey and Kiri Allan and newcomers Ayesha Verrall, Shanan Halbert and Glen Bennett.
They will be joined by gay Green Party members and Rainbow spokespersons Jan Logie, Chloe Swarbrick, Elizabeth Kerekere and Ricardo Menendez. About 40 percent of the Green Party MPs come from the rainbow community.
However, if the special vote results in the Greens losing seats then Elizabeth Kerekere and Ricardo Menendez who are in 9th and 10th place respectively could lose their seats, thereby reducing LGBT representation to a minimum of nine members.
Neither the Act nor the National Party currently have open gay MPs in their parties.
Inside Out Managing Director Tabby Besley said it was amazing to see New Zealand holding an international title and it was great to have a voice and issue the rainbow community.
considered by people with life experience.
“Having that number in Labor and the Greens is absolutely incredible …”
He says not only do they have rainbow members holding very prominent positions at Labor Grant Robertson, but there is also a new addition at Green with Elizabeth Kerekere who has campaigned on rainbow issues.
“I think for our community many of us know he will fly the flag as one of his top priorities whereas I think many MPs may have other portfolios or some people may not want their rainbow identity to be the main thing they talk about because they are just doing their job. Like everyone else At least with her position we know she won’t be shy about bringing up this issue so it’s pretty exciting.
Besley said things had been relatively slow for the rainbow community over the past period and they would like to see policies like the conversion therapy ban acted on quickly.
University of Waikato senior lecturer in psychology and president of Aotearoa’s Professional Association for Transgender Health Dr Jaimie Veale hopes that greater representation of the rainbow community in Parliament will result in more progress as it is believed to be insufficient over the past two terms.
Veale would also like to see some recognition of rainbow people’s rights such as health equality and making it easier for transgender people to gain legal gender recognition that has stalled under NZ First minister.
“Thinking about transgender – we hope the current composition of Parliament will be more responsive to our current needs.”