Small but mighty, little gay NZ punches above its weight in regards to LGBTQ+ rights and happiness.
New Zealand is home to a pair of our most enticing outings. Our North Island Adventure is perfect for foodies and culture vultures. Our South Island Expedition is great if you feed off adrenaline. And if you’re down for whatever, you can pair both of our gay NZ trips back to back.
But New Zealand is also one of the world’s most progressive nations. Relations between men were decriminalized in 1986. Same-sex marriage and adoption rights for same-sex couples became law in 2013. And gay, lesbian, and bisexual people have been allowed to serve openly in the military since 1993. Here are a few reasons why New Zealand might just be the gayest place on Earth.
New Zealand’s Government is the Gayest. Literally.
This is a big one! It’s obvious that a supportive, inclusive, and empathetic government is essential to advancing any community’s fab gay vibes. Well, following the country’s 2020 general election when six new LGBTQ+ MPs were elected, New Zealand found itself with the gayest national government in the world: 10% of the government’s elected MPs now openly identified as LGBTQ+. Prime Minister Jacinda Arden (who became the world’s youngest female head of government at 37 when she was elected in 2017) went so far as to name Grant Robertson the world’s first gay Deputy Prime Minister.
Back in 1999, New Zealand was also the first country to elect an openly transgender MP, Georgina Beyer, who is also of Māori descent. Notably before that, she was also the world’s first out transgender mayor – of the quaint town of Carterton. Georgina was named the country’s Supreme Queer of The Year at the 2000 Queer Of The Year Awards, and appointed to the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2020 for her legacy accomplishments to LGBTQ+ rights. Sadly, this trailblazer passed in March of 2023.
It’s worth noting that New Zealand is not without conservative Christians that have sought to shut queer progress down in recent years. The Christian Heritage New Zealand party came oh-so-close to winning a seat back in 1996. They ultimately disbanded a decade later after their leader, Graham Capill, went to jail for multiple sex crimes against children. We feel obliged to note he was not a drag queen.
The Islands’ Māori History is kinda gay.
From Egypt to Japan to French Polynesia, there’s a recurring theme of colonizers and sanctimonious religious types ruining a gay old time. The Māori people of New Zealand experienced a similar fate. Both men and women were known to engage in same-sex relations before such acts were criminalized in 1858. In fact, same-sex partners were affectionately known as takatāpui in the Māori language. When the first European explorers landed in New Zealand, they even observed MTF and FTM transgender locals upon arrival. Once their buggery laws were enacted, punishments for the crime included life in prison, hard labour, and flogging.
Now, we can’t help but spill more sweet tea on the subject of hypocritical Christians: in 1834 a holier-than-thou missionary – by the name of William Yate – had to scurry back to England after he was caught diddling around with young Māori men (once again, not a drag queen).
Today, as Māori youth reclaim their language and ancestry, the term is used comparably to the acronym “LGBT” in English.
Lord of the Rings? Also kinda gay.
A highlight of our North Island Adventure will be a visit to Hobbiton, where Lord of The Rings was filmed. Much speculation has been made about the characters’ sexualities in the film. For us, the most notable connection would be between Sam and Frodo. Sam even declared his love to Frodo while he slept. We’re not saying they were gay-gay. But it sounds kinda gay. Not to mention how the whole premise of this trilogy concerns a bunch of dudes with fabulous hair and flowing robes obsessing over jewelry. Not exactly straight.
On the other hand, Xena Warrior Princess was *very* gay.
Also filmed in New Zealand, and starring local girl Lucy Lawless, Xena Warrior Princess was the ultimate queer adventure icon. Originally on air from 1995-2001, the series was one of TV’s first shows to feature same-sex smooches and love interests. That’s all.
Speaking of Sapphic Superheroes…
You can thank a lesbian for giving birth to NZ’s modern gay rights movement. In 1972, Ngahuia Te Awekotuku wanted to visit the United States, but was denied her permit exclusively based on her sexuality. The negative public relations backlash to this news led to the formation of queer liberation groups in New Zealand’s major cities. Auckland’s Gay Liberation Front held their first “Gay Day” that same year, and it was led by Te Awekotuku.
There’s a broad cross-section of queer athletes.
From speed skating to springboard, and wrestling to rugby, there’s a whole swath of proud gay and lesbian athletes in New Zealand. But quite notably in 2023, retired All Blacks player Campbell Johnstone came out of the closet. This is a huge deal as New Zealand’s national rugby team is considered *the* most successful sports team in world history. This formidable posse of hyper-masculine beasts is also renowned for their pre-game haka routine. It’s a traditional Māori dance performed to challenge and intimidate the other team. But as a choreographed dance featuring beefier butts and furrier legs than hit cheerleading film Bring It On, the haka has our attention for *other* reasons. Is it cold in here? There must be some All blacks in the atmosphere.
Gay NZ’s bright future.
Today, 169,500 New Zealand adults identify as LGBTQ+. That’s a solid 4.4% of the adult population. Historic homosexual convictions have been cleared from criminal records (with apologies from the government). And 2023 saw the enactment of the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Bill. It improves digital access to birth, death, marriage, and civil union information. But importantly, it also implements a self-identification process to amend one’s sex on birth certificates. Applicants no longer need to visit the Family Court or have medical treatment to physically conform with their chosen gender. They simply need to submit a statutory declaration.