Jun 19, 2012
Hone Harawira and marriage equality (updated)
Hone Harawira is known for a lot of things, but not many people realise he is a social and moral conservative. He is against, for example, drug liberalisation and gay marriage and in an interview with Bryce Edwards Hone claimed to be against a society of “choice”. This, I think, reveals an authoritarian attitude not uncommon in Maori males of Hone’s generation.
Taking this into account it appears Hone shares more in common with his former colleagues – meaning the Maori Party – than he cares to admit. I read Maori as being a conservative people, if not always politically. This is true of Maori raised in the radical tradition too, the most prominent example being Hone Harawira.
Many Maori are raised to hold steadfast to our culture and our ancestor’s traditions. This is not a bad thing, in fact it’s a great thing on balance, but it encourages cultural rigidity and a fair amount of conservatism. For example, many Maori (almost exclusively men) outright refuse to develop our customs to accommodate shifting attitudes around the place of women in society – think women speaking on the paepae. These situations reflect the social conservatism of many Maori.
Anywho, as I said Hone Harawira is opposed to gay marriage, or marriage equality as it’s positively framed. This position has been opposed universally within the Mana Party. Leading members have asked Hone to justify his position, but he is yet to face the membership with a justification. This is unacceptable from the party leader and he will be rightly savaged for it.
Hone takes the position that marriage is not a human right but a way of doing things. This, I think, is a fair assessment. However, it’s no reason to oppose the institution of marriage being available to same-sex couples. If it’s a way of doing things, why not ensure that that way of doing things is equal and does not discriminate. Such a position would be consistent with Mana Party values.
I don’t think Hone will be able to maintain his position. Party pressure will be considerable. On the small chance Hone remains steadfast though, his former party provides a salient illustration of what happens when you ignore your members.
UPDATE: According to Maiki Sherman on Twitter Hone Harawira would not be drawn on the issue of gay marriage saying that the party is still developing a position. This conflicts with the view Hone expressed in this interview with Bryce Edwards. For a list of MPs and their positions on marriage equality see this.