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Beyer – ‘The perfect woman’ gets gong

Georgina Beyer. PHOTO/FILE

Georgina Beyer

MNZM

For services to LGBTIQA+ rights

KAREN COLTMAN
[email protected]

Georgina Beyer’s service as a champion for equality and human rights, and as a political figure, has been formally acknowledged with a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

The former Carterton Mayor and Wairarapa MP was grateful for the recognition and paid homage to 20 years of living in Carterton that got her entrenched in politics.

“Being the Carterton Mayor and then the Wairarapa MP was a great opportunity for me to raise the issues of Wairarapa,” she said. “We got the Wairarapa Hospital built and major improvements on the Remutaka Hill, particularly on the summit.”

Beyer is proud of the work she did to get the Prostitution Law Reform Bill into law in 2003.

“It nearly didn’t pass, but one MP abstained, and it scraped over the line. But my speech and Winnie Laban’s moved two female MPs that had voted against the bill for the last two readings across to our side.”

She says it was a long road to get some equality for prostitutes who until then were criminalised for soliciting work in the sex trade, but their male clients were not considered criminal for engaging the services of sex workers. It was a landmark Act.

But Beyer says good things take time and the Homosexual Law Reform Act, civil union legislation and rights to gay marriage took a long time to get going but then as the years went on she says it got easier as people started to say, “Get it done already”.

Beyer has been a stage actress and as a young woman was in a movie.

When she was in Carterton going to Auckland for a performance with the Auckland Theatre Company meant she could fund her campaign for Mayor. She beat her former employer Paul Henry who hosted Carterton Community radio. He left town.

Beyer was elected mayor in 1995 and held the position for five years. She was elected as Wairarapa MP in 1999 and was re-elected in 2002 – a Maori, transgender, Labour Party woman in a traditionally National seat.

Pacific Radio host and former National MP John Banks was from Carterton and was outspoken against Georgina’s diversity and known to be anti-homosexuals, but when they saw each other in Carterton things were civil.

“But I do remember being in a Beehive lift with Peter Dunne and John Banks and both of them couldn’t get out of there fast enough, they were so uncomfortable.”

But Beyer is strong, popular and a champion of many causes. She is also a survivor. She had a major health scare in 2017 and needed a new kidney.

“A friend of mine, a lovely Carterton gay man, gave me one of his kidneys and I am doing well.”

Now Wellington-based, she said her ONZM owed much to Wairarapa. She thanked the people of the region for embracing her as a woman, her skills, and her passion.

She said the towns may appear to have conservative ‘red neck’ types but it just goes to show you should never judge a town by its cover.

“It was these rural and apparently conservative towns that chose me to represent them.

“We did this together. My award belongs to all of you lovely people of Wairarapa.

“The great thing about Wairarapa is that people can spot a fake at 50 paces, it is down to earth and that is why they understood that I would be a good mayor and MP.”

 

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