In an election where many voters turned away from the major parties, New Zealand’s fringe micro-parties still failed to gain any traction with their anti-vaccine and anti-trans rights platforms. Craig Young hopes this will show wannabe politicians it is time to move away from bashing the trans community. 
Well, our three-yearly electoral competition is over for a while, barring possible volatility in the National/ACT/New Zealand First coalition. But what about the tinier, fringe microparties away from the middle ground of Aotearoa/New Zealand politics?
Let’s pull out an electron microscope and observe these obstreperous little organisations. Due to the anti-vaccination movement’s proliferation against mainstream health measures during the COVID-19 pandemic, it tended to hijack the usual obsessions within the Christian Right- abortion, euthanasia, and transgender rights. Added to this, personality conflicts and sectarian clashes did their own work when it came to the fragmentation of the fundamentalist Christian vote.
Leaving out the NZ Loyal Party led by former TVNZ presenter Liz Gunn, which tacked opposition to transgender rights onto its anti-vaccination position at a late stage and which scored 1.15 percent of the total vote, none of the other micro-parties polled over percent. The closest was Alfred Ngaro’s New Zeal Party, which scored 0.56 percent. After this, things tend to get embarrassing for the Christian Right.
Why? Ngaro’s practical political experience may have made the difference here, as none of the other micro-parties polled anywhere near one percent of total voter share. Particularly embarrassing for them must be the fact that the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party, which advocates liberalisation of cannabis legislation in this country, outpolled the others. That’s right- at 0.39 percent, the ALCP outdid Brian Tamaki’s Freedoms New Zealand Party (0.35 pc), New Conservatives (0.15 pc) and its breakaway Leighton Baker Party (0.08 pc). Despite the fact that Brian Tamaki grandstanded against vaccination procedures and transgender rights, it didn’t do him any good, despite the fact due to Destiny Church’s megachurch scale, he was able to stand thirty-five candidates. Much the same can be said when it comes to the longest-lived micro-party, the New Conservatives, whose leader, Helen Houghton, is rabidly anti-transgender. And although not a fundamentalist Christian entity, the anti-transgender “Women’s Rights Party” polled 0.08 percent as well. By comparison, the Animal Justice Party, another liberal micro-party, outpolled the New Conservatives, Leighton Baker Party, and Women’s Rights Party.
What conclusions can we draw from this? The failure of the microparties may suggest that they will now abandon the anti-vaccination dogma that they previously held, apart from NZ Loyal, for which it is the dominant factor. Given their own anti-transgender rhetoric, ACT and New Zealand need to look at the marginality of the anti-transgender cause. Clearly, despite their shrill stridency on that front, the election outcome suggests that the issue did Freedoms New Zealand and the New Conservatives no good whatsoever. And if anti-transgender politics were at all a significant factor in Aotearoa’s domestic politics, surely the anti-trans Women’s Rights Party would have polled more than it did?  Defending the free speech of anti-trans demagogues is all very well, but look at the concrete questions of logistics and scale. Ruminating against transgender citizens of this country is not what the New Zealand electorate wants to hear.  It’s not a significant electoral issue. It’s time the centre-right abandoned it.

Article | Craig Young.
Craig Young (he/him) has been an LGBTQI+ rights activist for the last forty years. He’s been involved in every LGBTQI+ rights campaign since homosexual law reform and isn’t stopping now.