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New Zealand appoints its first openly gay High Court judge Matthew Muir

New Zealand appoints its first openly gay High Court judge Matthew Muir

One of the lawyers behind the campaign to legalize homosexuality in New Zealand in 1986 has seen his career come full circle as he was just appointed to sit on the bench of the High Court of New Zealand.

Auckland lawyer Matthew Muir was one of a group of lawyers who advised the authors of the Homosexual Law Reform Bill which legalized sex between men in New Zealand in 1986 after decades of activism by the LGBTI community.

And yesterday he was sworn in as the first openly gay man to sit on New Zealand’s High Court in the presence of his partner of 29 years, James Peters, and New Zealand’s openly gay Attorney General Chris Finlayson.

New Zealand High Court Chief Justice Sian Elias swore in Muir, saying, ‘Your appointment increases the diversity of High Court Justice,’ according to

‘To those of us who have lived through momentous social change it can be too easy to forget how bad things were.

‘We have seen a social revolution in our lifetime … The barriers are not yet all down but we have come a long way.’

In accepting his new role, Muir spoke of the ‘prejudice and hostility’ that had arisen in response to LGBTI New Zealanders began seeking their equal rights, ‘But we kept cool heads and played the long game,’ he said.

Muir also paid tribute to his partner James Peters, who he met during the campaign to decriminalize homosexuality, calling him, ‘effectively the co-author of my life,’ and ‘wise, kind and humane.’

‘I hope I can do him proud,’ he said.