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Bishop’s Comments May Damage Young New Zealanders

BISHOP’S COMMENTS MAY DAMAGE YOUNG NEW ZEALANDERS

The International Research Institute for Maori and Indigenous Education (IRI)

Press Release

For immediate release 5 June 2004

"Front page coverage by the New Zealand Herald of the comments made by Bishop Vercoe about a world without gays has the potential to cause long and permanent damage to young men and women who may be struggling with issues related to sexuality," states Dr Clive Aspin, principal investigator for a Maori sexuality research project being conducted at the University of Auckland.

"Comments such as these are out of line with those of other key figures in the Christian community and do nothing to ensure the good health and well being of our young people. Struggling to come to terms with sexuality, for example, is known to be a significant factor in the high number of suicides among young men," continues Dr Aspin.

Dr Aspin alongside Dr Leonie Pihama, Professor Linda Smith, Ms Glenis Phillip-Barbara and Ms Alamein Middleton are researching Maori views and understandings of Maori sexuality. Bishop Vercoe’s views on sexuality are very much out of line with the key findings of this project. Early findings from the project and a number of other studies into Maori sexuality show quite clearly that Maori have always had a very open and embracing attitude towards sexual diversity within social networks.

Dr Pihama states that "Bishop Vercoe’s condemnatory attitude towards gays derive from a Victorian way of looking at the world, based on intolerance and rejection. His views have long been supported by some parts of the Christian church and have already done great harm to our people.” Furthermore, she contests the views attributed to both Bishop Vercoe and Richard Randerson (Dean of the Holy Trinity cathedral in Parnell) “that Maori find homosexuality culturally very difficult'. “Such statements,” she states, “are colonial and Victorian views that merely seek to oppress certain sectors of society, and have no basis in tikanga Maori.”

As the new head of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, Bishop Vercoe has a duty to demonstrate acceptance and inclusion of all people, regardless of sexuality and gender. His views are not those of Maori in the twenty-first century and they are not those of our tupuna.

ENDS


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