About 120 lawyers and law students attended the Chapman Tripp and Rainbow Law networking event on Monday night (8 August) commemorating the 30 year anniversary of the Homosexual Law Reform Act.
“It was fantastic to see such a great turnout and testament to the legal industry as a whole to see lawyers from a number of firms – as well as law students – come together to commemorate such a significant and positive milestone,” Chapman Tripp’s Chief Executive Partner Nick Wells said.
“New Zealand has often been a trailblazer when it comes to equality and diversity of thought. We fought for women’s suffrage; we fought for homosexual law reform, we continue to work hard on treaty issues – often years before others on the international stage are tackling these issues.
“At the heart of Chapman Tripp’s culture is Manaakitanga, the concept of nurturing and showing respect for each other, and within that falls the concept of diversity – being inclusive to all aspects of difference.”
Justice Matthew Muir – the first openly gay High Court judge – was the keynote speaker at the event at Chapman Tripp’s Auckland offices.
Justice Muir spoke candidly about his experience and involvement in the reforms 30 years ago.
“For the many fresh faces in the room, 30 years probably seems like an eternity,” he said.
“For me the pain of the public debate which endured for almost 18 months and, the sweet smell of victory when the Bill finally passed on 9 July 1986 still seem very immediate.”
He spoke of the fear amongst the gay community due to actions of the Bill’s opponents.
“Thirty years have now passed – thirty years of social change which I am sure leaves many of the younger members of the audience almost shaking their heads in disbelief at the events I have recalled.”
Justice Muir thanked the audience for sharing with him in the celebration.
“And my congratulations to Nick Wells and Chapman Tripp for your commitment to respecting all aspects of difference in your Diversity Programme.
“As we speak, you may be nurturing in your ranks some young man or woman who becomes New Zealand’s first gay Supreme Court Justice.”