Maurice Williamson woos crowd at Pride debate

By Ben Irwin

National MP Maurice Williamson. Photo / Getty Images
National MP Maurice Williamson. Photo / Getty Images

The New Zealand politician who made headlines around the world with his "big gay rainbow'' speech has continued to woo crowds at a Pride debate in Auckland tonight.

National MP Maurice Williamson, whose speech on the Marriage Amendment Bill last year saw him gain an unlikely cult-hero status in the gay community, took part in the Great Auckland Pride Debate at the Auckland War Memorial Museum.

Two teams contested the debate - conducted in a light-hearted nature but with a serious message - which considered whether "gays did it better''.

Mr Williamson was joined on the "yes'' team with SPY about town Ricardo Simich and fellow National MP Nikki Kaye, while the "no''team included Labour MP Jacinda Ardern and comedians Jeremy Elwood and Urzila Carlson.

Mr Williamson's opening address, which he later said was "off the cuff'' as there were problems with the projector, consisted of mainly jokes, most of which went down well with the crowd of about 200.

When arguing why gay men had better fashion, Mr Williamson said: "Well if I spent most of my early life in a closet then I [would be fashionable too]''.

He also said gay people were doing well in the construction industry. Mr Williamson said he had inspected a building "designed by a lesbian'' and while it had been constructed with mostly "tongue and groove'' and had "no studs'', it was still a good quality building.

He ended his speech with dig at Conservative Party leader Colin Craig - the butt of many jokes during the night - by saying: "I can't do any of the Colin Craig jokes because I'll probably get sued'' - referring to Craig's noted litigious nature.

Mr Williamson even performed a short acoustic rendition of the song "Somewhere Over the Rainbow'', in reference to his speech delivered last year in which he lampooned the arguments put up by opponents of the marriage equality bill.

The speech included the famous quote: "One of the messages that I had was that this bill was the cause of our drought. Well, in the Pakuranga electorate this morning, it was pouring with rain. We had the most enormous big gay rainbow across my electorate".

For the record, the debate was won by the team comprising of Ardern, Elwood and Carlson.

Ardern received rousing applause during the debate when she said: "Gays don't do it better or worse, they do it their way and it's beautiful''.

- NZ Herald

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