New Zealand is set to welcome a new LGBT legislator to its House of Representatives. Claudette Hauiti, next on the governing National Party’s list, is set to replace disgraced former MP Aaron Gilmore, who has resigned from Parliament.
Hauiti is a former broadcaster of Maori descent who is automatically eligible to become MP in New Zealand’s mixed-member proportional electoral system. The National Party has confirmed that she will be asked by the Electoral Commission to take Gilmore’s place.
New Zealand recently passed opposition member Louisa Wall’s marriage equality bill. Civil unions have been available to LGBT New Zealanders since 2005. Hauiti and her partner (pictured) are currently in a civil union and have a five-year-old daughter; they plan to marry next year.
Despite the National Party’s centre-right orientation, during the recent same-sex marriage debate several National MPs, most notably Maurice Williamson, distinguished themselves with their support for marriage equality. Hauiti joins Attorney-General Chris Finlayson as the National Party’s only openly LGBT parliamentarians.
New Zealand has been a leader in LGBT political representation since the outing of National MP Marilyn Waring, notably electing the world’s first transgender MP, Labour’s Georgina Beyer, in 1999. Hauiti will become the seventh openly gay, lesbian or bisexual MP in New Zealand’s 121-member House.*
* Seven gay, lesbian, or bisexual MPs were elected in 2011; Labour MP Charles Chauvel has since resigned his seat.