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Anti-gay leader buckles under pressure on marriage equality

A notoriously homophobic New Zealand political leader will vote for same-sex marriage after the youth wing of his party threatened to pull their support from him
ACT party leader John Banks

The leader of a minor New Zealand political party with a history of opposing LGBT rights has confirmed he will vote to support a bill on same-sex marriage going forward after the youth wing of his party threatened to withdraw their support for him if he did not.

ACT party leader John Banks told media in the New Zealand Parliament that he would vote in favor of a first reading of the bill ‘because I am.’

A spokeswoman for Banks later refused to comment on his reason for doing so when he had previously indicated he would oppose it.

In 1986 Banks voted against decriminalizing homosexuality in New Zealand, telling the parliament, ‘[this] day will be remembered as a sad and sickening day for New Zealand.’

‘A very black cloud tonight and those members who wheel themselves through the doors … to vote for legalized sodomy at the age of 16 should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves.’

As recently as 1993 Banks was quoted as saying, ‘The problem with this homosexual business we've now made legal in his country … is that so many of these creeps have now boldly crept out of the wardrobe.’

The ACT on Campus youth wing of the party wrote to Banks earlier this week to tell him he would be jeopardizing their support for him if he voted against the bill.

Banks’ back flip means that MPs from every New Zealand political party with members in the Parliament will vote for the bill except for the anti-immigration New Zealand First party.

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