A former New Zealand MP has been unwittingly launched to prominence in Japan after a brilliant speech he gave on marriage equality in 2013 suddenly went viral in the country.
New Zealand passed marriage equality legislation that year, and MP Maurice Williamson told colleagues at the time: “All we are doing with this [same-sex marriage 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 forever.
“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.”
He said he’d been told the country’s same-sex marriage debate was “the cause of our drought,” to which he replied, “Well, in the Pakuranga electorate this morning it was pouring with rain. We had the most enormous big gay rainbow across my electorate.”
The speech struck a chord with Twitter users in Japan, where same-sex marriage is not yet legal.
After Japanese politician Wataru Takeshita prompted outrage by recently saying marriage equality “doesn’t fit” with the country’s traditions, a Twitter user found Williamson’s speech and posted a subtitled version last week.
It’s since been liked and retweeted more than 500,000 times.
Hi from Japan, I happened to watch your speech and I’m so thankful for this luck. I am not gay but your speech changed the way I see the world completely🙏🏻✨I started to think more abt ppl struggling to live their lives just the way they are even today. Thank you.
— Mrs. R 💎⁂ (@eiga_girl) November 27, 2017
Williamson, who is now New Zealand’s Consul General to the United States, told TVNZ he was proud his speech had made an impact and wanted to show that New Zealand was a tolerant society which “passed gay marriage and then went off and had dinner.”
“I guess [the speech is] relevant to the time of where a country is at. We passed gay marriage four years ago, we got on with life,” he said.
“As I predicted in my speech, the world would just carry on and nothing would come crashing down around our ears as the naysayers had us believe.
“I guess Japan’s at that point now. They’re currently debating the issue and considering it right now, so every time I look at my Twitter account there’s just more and more people.”
Watch the speech in full below: