Ex-National MP Brian Neeson has been appointed to the Human Rights Review Tribunal, despite voting against equality and anti-discrimination measures for LGBT people at every opportunity while he was in parliament in the 1990s.
Neeson voted to allow employers to discriminate on the basis of gender, and then voted to exclude sexual orientation from the 1993 Human Rights Bill, which became the Human Rights Act. He then voted to exclude AIDS and HIV from the definition of 'physical health' in the prohibited ground of discrimination, to allow health professionals and teachers to be sacked for being gay, and to allow anti-gay discrimination to continue in the armed forces.
He also voted "to allow employers to 'conscientiously object' to the requirement not to discriminate, effectively granting a licence for bigotry," the blogger points out. "Fortunately, he was unsuccessful on all counts."
"The man is a bigot who supports discrimination on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, marital status, and family status," the blogger concludes. "Appointing him to the Human Rights Review Tribunal is like appointing Taito Philip Field to an anti-corruption taskforce."
Twenty people from around New Zealand sit on the Human Rights Review Tribunal, and are called up every few weeks to sit in court and hear cases of human rights abuse. The West Coast's much-loved 'Tranny Granny' Jacquie Grant has been on the Tribunal since 2004, and was reappointed last month.
Civil Union celebrant and long-time gay activist Bill Logan describes the appointment of Brian Neeson to the Human Rights Review Tribunal as "an outrage". "As a Member of Parliament this man supported the right to discriminate on the grounds of gender, sexual orientation and HIV status," he told GayNZ.com. "Indeed he opposed the legislation which the Human Rights Review Tribunal adjudicates on as 'probably one of the most dangerous bills that I have seen come into this House.'
"When the government appoints as a guardian of human rights someone whose only qualification is as an opponent of those rights, then it is time to get very worried. It seems like a deliberate government attack on lesbian, gay and transsexual communities. How can it be anything else?" says Logan.
Gay Labour MP Grant Robertson also says he has "deep concerns" over Neeson's appointment, telling the NZ Herald the ex-MP's voting record is "not the sort of stuff you'd expect from someone on the Human Rights Review Tribunal."