Today 34 years ago Wellington Central MP Fran Wilde's private member's bill, which removed criminal sanctions against consensual male homosexual practices, won by 49 votes to 44. The legislation came into effect on 8 August 1986. It decriminalised sexual relations between men aged 16 and over. No longer would men having consensual sex with each other be liable to prosecution and a term of imprisonment. Though sex between women had never been illegal, many lesbians suffered the same social discrimination as gay men and were staunch supporters of the reform movement. The campaign against the law aroused bitter public and political debate. The Coalition of Concerned Citizens believed that decriminalising gay sex would lead to moral decline and the spread of HIV/AIDS and claimed to have gathered more than 800,000 signatures (many of these were later discredited).
Ejecting too soon
On July 4, 1989, Soviet MiG-23 pilot Nikolai Skuridin was on a routine training flight near Kolobrzeg, Poland, when his afterburner failed. Skuridin ejected, thinking the engine was completely dead, but the plane recovered and proceeded on autopilot into the west. It must have had a lot of fuel, because it crossed out of Poland into East Germany, then into West Germany, then into the Netherlands, where a startled American air base sent up two F-15s to keep it company. As the MiG passed into Belgium the F-15s were told to shoot it down when it reached the North Sea, but it finally ran out of fuel near the French border, crashing into a house and killing a teenager. The whole flight had covered 560 miles.
Fibre install in the closet
There have been numerous reports of bungled Chorus fibre installs — the cable going over a footpath in Mangere and a UFB install beside a toilet. A reader in West Auckland writes: "The contractors who installed our wifi did so at the bottom of a wardrobe at the far end of the house, away from all the stuff that needs wifi…what a bunch of cowboys."
A word in your ear…
1. We took our four year old son to see the Christmas display in Christchurch many years ago and he described what he saw as "father crisp and his trigboggin and goats".
2. "My son now aged 40 was born in October, he couldn't say October instead called it knocked over, which is what we all call it to this day."
A reader writes: "New Zealand has one of its own. Torty was rescued in Greece after being run over by a gun carriage during World War I and was brought back to New Zealand by a medic. His grandchildren now share the care of it."