Home > Religion, Atheism, & Hollywood, Social Issues, The Body Politic > The Shifting Faces of Simon Bridges

The Shifting Faces of Simon Bridges

.

.

“Oops, I did it again
I played with your trust, in the political game
Oh baby, baby
Oops, you think I’m here for you
That I’m sent from above
I’m not that competent” – Apologies to Britney Spears

.

Part of youth and young adulthood is the propensity to make mistakes. We all make those mistakes, some trivial and forgotten in a swirling fog of time and dimmed memory –  some not-so-trivial and which eventually come back to haunt us.

It’s what we learn from those mistakes that ultimately matters. For most, those mistakes serve as a lesson: don’t do it again. There are bad consequences.

For others, those lessons seem to be a wasted exercise in life-experiences.

Case in point, Simon Bridges, National MP. Current MP for Tauranga and National’s spokesperson for Justice. In the Key/English administration, he held portfolios for Economic Development, Transport, Communications, Energy & Resources, Labour, Associate Finance and Leader of the House. One of his most notorious acts was to criminalise protests against deep sea oil prospecting by foreign corporations.

(Five years later, the Ardern-led government banned new deep sea oil prospecting anyway.)

Mr Bridges is also remembered for his opposition to marriage equality in 2013. His heterosexual chauvinism was blatant;

“I don’t think it’s the biggest issue Parliament is going to deal with anytime soon. It looks very likely to pass.

I have voted against it really for a couple of reasons. The first is all the feedback I am getting from my electorate makes it clear the majority of people of Tauranga are against it.”

Secondly, I think more than being a legal matter marriage is a deeply cultural, historical and religious institution built up over a very long time.

I wouldn’t change it lightly.”

Came the vote on the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Act 2013, he was one of fortyfour MPs who cast their ballot against allowing gays, lesbians, and transgender people to marry.

It appears that his comment as a young man in 1994;

“Oh I know him, actually he was a teacher of mine at school. How do I feel about him being gay? To be honest I’m not really into homosexuality, but I suppose if he’s going to come out and say it, I suppose it takes a bit of guts.”

— was still very much prevalent in his life.

By 2019, Mr Bridges appears to have moved on from his ill-concealed homophobia. Firstly he admitted his comments had been immature;

“Look obviously I was a very young, silly young guy. It’s an incredibly long time ago, my views have changed.”

He then conceded that his voting decision on marriage equality had been an error of judgement;

“I would change my vote today. New Zealand has moved on and so have I.” Admitting, “We all move on and we’ve got a law that’s working well.”

Interestingly, it was “New Zealand that had moved on“, dragging Mr Bridges and other “no”-voting MPs along for the ride. More on this point shortly.

Unfortunately, Mr Bridges’ assertion that “my views have changed” appears to have been short-lived or premature. His statement in Parliament, opposing the banning of conversion “therapy” (Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Bill) was one Giant Leap for A Man – back to the 1950s;

“National supports the core intention of this thought. People should be free to be who they want to be and to love who they want to love. There is one major sticking point, however, which means that although we want to be supportive, we are opposing this law until it is amended. It is very clear in Kris Faafoi’s interview on Newstalk ZB with Heather du Plessis-Allan, and any plain reading of this bill, that good parenting will be criminalised —

 — facing up to five years—it is exactly what it is saying—imprisonment for being parents to children under 18. The members opposite yell at me, but that is what Kris Faafoi said on Newstalk ZB, and it is wrong.

Parents should be allowed to be parents and to explore sexuality and gender with their children. But under this law, if a mum tells her 12-year-old son or daughter, “Taihoa, before you go on puberty blockers or other hormone treatment, wait till you’re 18.”, that mum will be breaking the law. National believes there must be an exemption for parents.”

He then proceeded to veer off on a tangent regarding transgender people, de-transitioning, and puberty blockers, whilst citing a case from the UK. They were talking points straight out of the transphobic minority hate-group, the so-called “Speak up for Women“.

It was as if the “very young, silly young guy” was standing in Parliament spouting the same homophobic/transphobic rubbish from which he had claimed to have resiled.

How many times can Mr Bridges express chauvinistic views against the LGBTQI+ and then expect an apology afterwards to be taken seriously?

How many “free passes” does a person get for making the same mistake over and over again?

Mr Bridges has accepted the need to ban conversion “therapy” when he opened his Parliamentary speech; “National supports the core intention of this thought. People should be free to be who they want to be and to love who they want to love.“.

Indeed.

So the question then arises, how can Mr Bridges and his National Party parliamentary colleagues,  ban a practice; making it illegal; and admitting it is ineffective;  but still permit parents to engage in the very same practice that would be illegal and ineffective?

The ‘logic’ of this escapes me.

It is akin to banning child abuse – but allowing parents to engage in child abuse.

It lowers the value of a child from being a human being and reduces them to property. Like a table or a car or a TV set.

It should be remembered that pet owners do not have the right to abuse their pets. Heavy fines and even jail terms await pet owners found abusing their companion animals.

So in effect, if parents are exempt from the Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Bill, Mr Bridges has elevated the rights of pets above children; that pets have more protection under the law than children.

Is that Mr Bridges intent?

Mr Bridges colleague, National MP, Louise Upston also confirmed National’s position on conversion “therapy”;

“National wants to support this bill. We abhor conversion therapy and anything that harms or abuses, or creates issues for, any New Zealander to choose who they are, to be who they are, and to love who they choose.”

But then, again, she advocated parents having the right to practice a so-called “therapy” that has been declared ineffective and would be otherwise banned;

“I’d like to see when the bill progresses that there is clarity and a parental exemption…”

Despite headlines to the contrary, ACT was not much better. Although supporting the First Reading of the Bill,  they took their opposition to the Bill a step further, supporting not just “parental rights” but religious-based intervention, as Maureen McKee clearly advocated;

“Further to this, if the family wanted to seek religious guidance, and they were, say, salvationists, they won’t get that advice; they would not even get prayer…

… ACT’s concern is that the bill, in its current format, doesn’t just step on parents and religion; it actually stomps on it. The Government would be interfering and legislating what can be said in the home, how a family is to deal with an issue, and removes their ability to seek religious guidance.”

Preventing “religious guidance” – aka conversion “therapy” is pretty much why the Bill is needed to protect young people. Allowing an exemption for so-called “religious guidance” would make the law utterly pointless. (It would be like banning drink-driving – except if you have drunk beer, wine, or spirits. Otherwise drink-driving is banned.)

The response from many ranged from disappointment to outright disgust and anger. Even the Young Nats called for their Parliamentary “elders” to support the first reading of the Bill;

.

.

National’s Caretaker Leader, Judith Collins’ response was typical Judith Collins;

.

.

Way to go, Ms Collins. Being dismissive of their Youth Wing with an arrogant “the party won’t be dictated by its youth wing” is a great way to tell your activists how much they are valued. Or, as one high profile commentator and activist from the Rainbow community put it on social media;

“Bold to start your party’s conference by telling your youth wing to fuck off”

Meanwhile, National MPs might consider scrubbing posts from their social media accounts, such as this one;

.

.

Or, like this one;

.

facebook simon bridges big gay out

 

.

They have not “aged” well.

It beggars belief that Mr Bridges can attend Rainbow events and then make black and white declarations regarding LGBTQI+ that reflect his own bias;

It is important that we consider sexual orientation and gender identity or expression separately. Sexual orientation requires no medical intervention, whereas when it comes to gender identity/expression, parents are naturally concerned about being able to make decisions about their children being given puberty blockers and hormones … parents should be allowed to be parents.”

For the zillionth time; conservative/right-wing politicians should stay the hell out of the lives and bedrooms of LGBTQI+ people. Conservative/right-wing politicians do not get to choose “sexual orientation and gender identity or expression separately“.

And then turn up at Rainbow events as “supporters”.

So it was perfectly understandable that Auckland Pride Executive Director, Max Tweedie, confirmed that the National Party is no longer welcome at the Auckland Pride festival. Perhaps other Rainbow event organisors may follow suit.

Without much doubt, this Bill will pass into law. Parents will not be “criminalised” for talking with their children. Organisations/groups will be prevented from engaging in dubious conversion “therapy” practices.

The shield of “religious belief” will be stripped away – as it should be. Religion should never be a cloak for bad behaviours and practices from the Medieval Ages. If it were, their adherents would still be stoning gays, adulterers, etc, to death. (To spell it out; stoning is murder. Murder is surprisingly illegal, regardless of religious belief.)

We already see numerous examples where “religious belief” is just a cloak for what would otherwise be inexcusable, bigotted behaviour;

.

.

If National feels they can pander to conservative voters and to extremist fringe groups like “Speak up for Women“, so be it. There may be a few votes in it. But not enough to become government.

Remember what Simon Bridges said?

“New Zealand has moved on.”

Indeed, the country has. But National hasn’t. It is stuck in a past that has not existed since 1986 – but the rest of us (or most of us) have moved on.

The same arguments used against Homosexual Law Reform and marriage equality have been heard before: “freedom to be a bigot in the name of religious belief”.

The same arguments against the so-called “anti-smacking” bill have been heard before: “criminalising well meaning parents who want to beat the shit out of their kids”.

All these arguments to excuse bad behaviour have been heard before. And under the bright glare of scrutiny, they were dismissed for what they are: uninformed fear mongering and cheap political point-scoring for votes.

As was pointed out above, it is inconceivable that certain behaviour can be found to be ineffective and made illegal – but for some inexplicable reason, parents should be allowed to engage in that same behaviour which is ineffective and illegal for others. That is some twisted logic right there.

This Bill will pass. And National will be left behind, it’s MPs forced to recant in years to come.

By then, the Party may have fractured, splintering into it’s constituent groups; Rural; Urban Liberals; and religious right.

But in the meantime, as Maori Party/Te Paati Māori co-Leader, Rawiri Waittiti said in the same debate where Simon Bridges declared himself on the wrong side of history (yet again);

“Tēnā koe e te Pīka. Tēnā tatou e te Whare. I’m going to be on the right side of history in this debate, and I will not wait for a valedictory speech to apologise to the rest of New Zealand!”

No more apologies, Mr Bridges.

.

.

.

.

References

Parliament: Simon Bridges

National: About Simon Bridges

Radio NZ:  Govt plans hefty fines for offshore mining protests

RNZ: Parliament passes Bill banning new offshore oil and gas exploration

Sunlive: Final reading for gay marriage bill

NZ Herald: Gay marriage – How MPs voted

Newshub: ‘I’m not really into homosexuality’: Simon Bridges’ former gay views revealed

Newshub: Marriage equality, five years on – The Spinoff asks opposing MPs if they’d still vote no

TVNZ: Simon Bridges attends first Big Gay Out event, says he would now vote for marriage equality

Parliament: Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Bill — First Reading

NZ Herald: Act supports conversion therapy ban bill, National holding out over parental concerns

Twitter: Young Nats – Conversion “Therapy” – 10.29am Aug 5 2021

Newstalk ZB: Judith Collins – National will not be dictated by Young Nats

Twitter: Max Tweedie – Judith Collins on Young Nats – 2.38pm Aug 6 2021

Twitter: Nicola Willis – Wellington Pride – 6:01pm Mar 7 2020

Facebook: Simon Bridges attending Ending HIV Big Gay Out: 20th Anniversary

RNZ: ACT, National warn of conversion therapy bill ‘risk’

Rolling Stone: Ohio Allows Doctors to Deny LGBTQ Health Care on Moral Grounds

Twitter: @postingdad – conversion “therapy” –11.20am August 5 2021

Additional

Newshub: Marriage equality, five years on – The Spinoff asks opposing MPs if they’d still vote no

RNZ: Nights – Window on The World – People Fixing the World – LGBT community in Mombasa, Kenya

Other Blogs

Boots Theory: Laurel Hubbard is a trailblazer

Fightback: SWERF and TERF – The Red-Brown alliance in Policing Gender

No Right Turn:  Ending conversion “therapy”

The Jackleman:  Simon Bridges cannot be trusted

The Jackleman:  Calling all transphobes

The Standard: National used to be better than this

Highly Recommended Blogpost

Postingdad: This Bill Will Pass

Previous related blogposts

The Many Mendacities of Mr Bridges – National’s fair-weather “commitment” to a Climate Change Commission

Recycling – National Party style. Something embarrassing about Mr Bridges conference speech uncovered

Simon burns his Teal Coalition Bridges

Mining, Drilling, Arresting, Imprisoning – Simon Bridges

Letter to the Editor: Simon Bridges is a very naughty little boy!

Standard & Poor’s just sabotaged Simon Bridges’ tax bribe announcement

Simon Bridges – out of touch with Kiwi Battlers

Simon Bridges: the 15 March Christchurch massacre and winning at any cost

Simon Bridges: “No ifs, no buts, no caveats, I will repeal this CGT”

First they came…

Apartheid in Aotearoa New Zealand – yes, it does exist

Fairfax media and Kiwiblog revise incorrect story denigrating trans-people

Anti-trans activists fudge OIA statement – Report

The Abigail Article; Martyn Bradbury’s Article, and My Response

Acknowledgement

Thanks to Helen for proofreading! Many thanks!

.

.

.

.

Liked what you read? Feel free to share.

Have your own thoughts? Leave a comment. (Trolls need not bother.)

.

= fs =

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: