Almost Gone

From Craig Young, 23 December 2018

For several months now, Family First has not reprinted any overseas anti-LGBT pieces. Has it finally relinquished its anti-LGBT agenda?

To be sure, it does have other priorities- opposing abortion law liberalisation and the decriminalisation of assisted suicide and recreational cannabis. This had to happen sooner or later, and so now political momentum has moved toward those issues, leaving Family First to provide rearguard opposition.

Ironically, given that Family First has emphasised the value of binding referenda in the past, recreational cannabis will be subject to one such referendum and it is possible that the End of Life Choices Bill debate will be resolved by another. Both will occur in 2020, at the same time as the next New Zealand election, if the End of Life Choices Bill survives its second and third parliamentary readings. It may not do so, given that many prominent New Zealand medical organisations oppose its continued passage.  By contrast, mainstream medical organisations aren't conservative when it comes to abortion rights and recreational cannabis use, and Family First is vastly outnumbered on the latter, while it has allies aplenty within the anti-euthanasia lobby. That said, religious conservative anti-euthanasia groups are uneasy about referenda in this context, given that it has been used to decriminalise and maintain access to assisted suicide in Switzerland's Zurich canton and several US states.

Over recent years, Family First hasn't been particularly active against LGBT rights, given the failure of the New Conservative fundamentalist microparty to gain political traction, and the passage of marriage equality and inclusive adoption reform. Transgender youth social transitioning has been one feeble front of its activism, but it has been unable to attract mainstream supporters to what seems to be primarily a religious social conservative anti-transgender campaign dependent on those within the United States. Key's Education Minister Hekia Parata deserves considerable credit for her commitment to bipartisan social liberal consensus on this front. Whether or not it will be back in the event of renewed legislative efforts for trans-inclusive antidiscrimination laws is uncertain. It may be the case that opposition to assisted suicide has now largely replaced anti-LGBT activism and become a new joint priority for the Christian Right, alongside their perennial opposition to abortion rights.

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