GayNZ has been interviewing politicians from each political party, and this week it was the turn of the Green Party’s Kevin Hague, who discussed support for gay marriage and gay adoption, as well as an end to the Gay Panic Defence in criminal law.
Hague made an interesting point about conscience votes and the fact that other parties often use them to give themselves some leeway from standing up for LGBT rights:
Essentially on every issue that has come into the House since we’ve been in Parliament, the Green Party has voted the ‘right’ way… voted in favour of lesbian and gay interests, as a matter of party policy, not through a conscience vote, as other parties have done…
Yeah, why are they ‘moral’ votes, would be my question. And that’s the Green Party’s question too. When it comes to things like Civil Unions, for example, why should that be a moral issue or a different kind of issue from any other question that Parliament decides. And the Green Party voted for Civil Unions as a matter of policy.
I’ve always thought the strange thing about conscience votes is the implication that politicians are not voting with their conscience on other issues. Voters vote for parties that represent their consciences. So they (the voters) could no doubt be annoyed to find that elements of their chosen party are skiving off to vote for something opposite to what those voters thought they had voted for.