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Historian Gareth Watkins selects June dates that highlight the progress made by New Zealand’s Rainbow communities throughout history.

12 June 1916

Activist Jack Goodwin was born in Auckland. Goodwin was a senior member of the Dorian Society, New Zealand’s earliest known homosexual organisation, and later a key member of the NZ Homosexual Law Reform Society. The Dorian Society was established in Wellington in 1962. It was primarily set up as a social group, although it quickly formed a legal subcommittee to investigate the possibility of homosexual law reform. In 1967, soon after the Dorian Society began, the NZ Homosexual Law Reform Society was formed with the narrow aim of repealing laws that criminalised homosexual activity. But within a couple of years, a new wave of activists propelled by Gay Liberation began calling for much broader change: full equality and the dismantlement of the patriarchy. At the 1974 Gay Liberation conference in Wellington, Goodwin, as a spokesperson for the more conservative Law Reform Society, told the gathering, “I’m as fed up as you are with society… but short of revolution, we’re doing all we can to change it.” According to the student magazine Salient, some in the crowd murmured, “Let’s have a revolution, then.” To which Goodwin replied, “If you want a revolution, there may not be much hope for gays. Look at Cuba.” Sadly, Goodwin died in 1983, so never witnessed the passing of homosexual law reform in 1986.

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8 June 1933

Newspapers around the country reported on the case of Rosie Laihae, who was charged with obtaining credit by falsely representing themselves as a woman. Earlier in the year, Laihae had been shopping at a drapery shop in Pukekohe, where she purchased on credit an evening dress, scents and face powder. Laihae’s lawyer, Mr Foster, told the court that Laihae had considerable income and had the fullest intention of paying for the goods, so the charge of obtaining credit by fraud could not stand. Mr Foster said that “all of [Laihae’s] mannerisms are now feminine.” Foster said that Laihae came from a good family in the Hawke’s Bay. She was brought up as a girl and encouraged to dress in female clothing. When she was nine, she joined a circus and trained as an acrobat and trapeze artist. Laihae’s current employer, farm owner Thomas Bell, also gave evidence. He told the court that Laihae was an excellent worker on his farm and would continue to employ her. He also guaranteed payment of the account. The two Justices of the Peace agreed that Laihae had the resources to pay the debt, and the case was dismissed.

12 June 2013

National MP Claudette Hauiti gave her maiden speech in Parliament. Before becoming a Member of Parliament, Hauiti had a long career as a broadcaster and journalist. She produced Children of the Revolution, a documentary about protest movements in NZ in the 1970s and 1980s. It won the Best Maori Language Programme award at the 2008 Qantas Film and Television Awards. During her maiden speech, she told the House, “Thanks to the takataapui community, I bring to this House and my Government the strength of courage to overcome adversity, tolerance in the face of rejection, acceptance where there is love, and an ability to recognise diversity as being the fabric that makes up this young, beautiful nation. If we go forward as a nation, united in our diversity, then we do so with purpose and with passion. We may not agree with one another’s policies, processes, or procedures. We are not a homogenous people, but I respect the right of anyone to voice their opinion, and I welcome the opportunity to debate robustly.”

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