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12 Dec 2017 4:22
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  •   Home > News > International

    Former New Zealand MP Maurice Williamson becomes gay icon in Japan

    When former New Zealand politician Maurice Williamson made his famous "big gay rainbow" speech to the Parliament in 2013, he could never have foreseen his speech would go viral in Japan four years later.

    When New Zealand MP Maurice Williamson made his "big gay rainbow" speech to the country's parliament in 2013, he hoped it would influence the debate on same-sex marriage laws.

    What he could not have predicted was that the same speech would see him become a gay icon in Japan four years later.

    Mr Williams, who is now New Zealand's Consul General to the United States, told fellow MPs that: "All we are doing with this bill is allowing two people who love each other to have that love recognised by way of marriage. That is all we are doing".

    "We are not declaring nuclear war on a foreign state. We are not bringing a virus in that could wipe out our agricultural sector for ever. We are allowing two people who love each other to have that recognized, and I can't see what's wrong with that for love nor money.

    "But I give a promise to those people who are opposed to this bill right now. I give you a watertight guaranteed promise. The sun will still rise tomorrow."

    But the speech, made for the political climate of New Zealand four years ago, struck a chord with people in Japan where same-sex marriage is not legal.

    The speech became especially relevant after a member of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party, Wataru Takeshita, said same-sex couples should not be allowed to attend banquets at the Imperial Palace in the presence of the Emperor and Empress.

    "It doesn't fit with Japan's traditions," Mr Takeshita said, according to The Japan Times.

    In response, Twitter user @bulldog_noh8 posted Mr Williamson's speech, and the response was swift — attracting hundreds of thousands of likes and retweets

    It all seemed a bit out of the blue for Mr Williamson, who was not sure where all of his new Twitter followers were coming from.

    Several Japanese people reached out to Mr Williamson, thanking him for making the speech.

    Wait, why is referred to as the 'big gay rainbow' speech?

    In the speech, Mr Williams said he had received a message that the same-sex marriage bill was causing a drought.

    "Well, in the Pakuranga electorate this morning it was pouring with rain," he said.

    "We had the most enormous big gay rainbow across my electorate."

    It made waves around New Zealand at the time, and the speech won the Massey University Quote of the Year competition that year.

    © 2017 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved

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