‘Deviant’ was once a term aimed at New Zealand’s rainbow communities, Craig Young now sees the same groups aiming it at our homeless and impoverished, and asks ‘who’s side are you on?’
What does ‘deviance’ mean in early twenty-first century Aotearoa?
It’s been nearly forty years since male homosexuality was decriminalised in this country. Subsequently, the same has happened to sex work, blasphemy, abortion and euthanasia, leaving the list of one-time ‘victimless crimes’ rather threadbare. About the only ‘offence against public morality’ that’s left in the Summary Offences Act 1981 is fortune telling. Except for purposes of entertainment. Why is it even still there?
The Christian Right is annoyed at this, but it really can’t turn the clock back. There has been a precipitous fall in Christian religious observance in this country and religious authority has been displaced by secular professional expertise and cumulative evidence when it comes to social policy issues like the above. Resentment at this has led to the current Christian Right anti-vaccination and anti-transgender deadends, which have been ignored by mainstream New Zealanders who don’t find medical and scientific professional skills and evidence a problem.   
Unfortunately, would-be new ‘moral guardians’ have arisen in their stead. Local councils have tried without success to label homeless and mentally ill people who are severely impoverished ‘vagrants’ and banish beggars from our streets. This situation arose due to failures in housing and public mental health provision and most of us disagree with this prognosis.  National and ACT are fond of accusing unemployment and sickness beneficiaries of ‘welfare dependency’, even during an economic downturn, and New Zealand First has argued for time-limited benefits. Again, recent opinion polls suggest that we’re not sympathetic to these new displays of moral guardianship and deviant labelling. 
With the gangs and ram raiders, it’s a little more difficult. Violence against each other, other community members and armed robbery is a source of tangible harm, but isn’t economic inequality, whanau fragmentation and institutional racism to blame for this in the first place? 
As LGBTQI+ individuals were once scapegoats for social division ourselves, perhaps we need to ask ourselves whether contemporary ‘deviant’ labels are similarly less ‘innocent’ or neutral than they seem.