Sodomy or sodomy became illegal in New Zealand when the country became part of the British Empire in 1840 and passed English law punishing male homosexual acts with death. The Offences Against the Person Act 1867 changed the penalty for sodomy from execution to life imprisonment. In 1893, the law was expanded so that any sexual intercourse between men constitutes sexual assault, even consensual. Punishments included life imprisonment, forced labour and flogging. Sex between women was never prohibited by law in New Zealand, but all intercourse, including heterosexual intercourse, remained before the 1986 law.  In 1961, penalties for male homosexual activity were reduced, reflecting changing attitudes towards homosexuality. Soon after, the Doric Society and later the Wolfenden Society were founded to advocate for the legalization of homosexual males. In 1968, a petition signed by 75 prominent citizens calling for changes to the law was submitted to Parliament (and rejected by Parliament).  In New Zealand, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people have been legal to serve in the military since the New Zealand Human Rights Act 1993 ended most forms of discrimination against lesbian, gay, and bisexual people in the workplace. New Zealand`s military leaders are not opposed to ending discrimination through military service.    The Royal New Zealand Navy and the New Zealand Police are among many government agencies that have adopted “pro-homosexual” policies.  After several unsuccessful attempts, same-sex relations were decriminalized in 1986. In 2018, the government passed a law allowing men convicted of homosexual crimes before decriminalization to have their records expunged, and there was also an official apology.
By the way, female same-sex sexual activity has always been technically legal, much like in the UK. When religious settlers brought Christianity to the islands, they also brought with them the idea that homosexuality was a sin, and later New Zealand passed the British law criminalizing same-sex sexual activity. In the `60s and `70s, gay liberation groups formed and gained strength — a catalytic event was when a female academic was denied entry to the United States because she was gay. Gender reassignment surgery is legal in New Zealand.  A person can change their name and legal sex on official documents, including birth certificates, if they can provide medical evidence that they have “acquired a physical conformation consistent with their gender identity.”  Originally, this was only available to people who had undergone genital reconstruction. However, in June 2008, the Family Court ruled that full sex reassignment surgery is not always necessary to meet this legal threshold.  LGBT discrimination is illegal in New Zealand in some contexts. In March 2017, representatives of the Intersex Trust Aotearoa New Zealand participated in an Australian and New Zealand “Darlington Declaration” by intersex community organizations and others.  The Declaration calls for legal reforms, including criminalizing deferrable intersex medical interventions on children, ending legal gender classification, protection from discrimination and harmful practices, and better access to peer support.      In July 2012, a bill was withdrawn from the ballot by Labor MP Louisa Wall proposing to define marriage as inclusive regardless of gender. The Marriage Amendment Act (definition of marriage) was adopted on 29 August 2012 in first reading by 80 votes in favour, 40 against (with one abstention). Preliminary reports show broad support for same-sex marriage both in Parliament (particularly Prime Minister John Key) and among the general public, with May 2012 polls showing 63% support. In December 2012, former Governor General Catherine Tizard performed alongside New Zealand singers Anika Moa, Boh Runga and Hollie Smith and Olympian Danyon Loader in an online video campaign in support of same-sex marriage.  The bill passed second and third readings by 77 votes to 44 and came into force on April 19, 2013. However, same-sex marriages were not contracted until August, when the law came into effect.  The good news is that it`s pretty fantastic. New Zealand is definitely a world leader when it comes to LGBT rights – even ahead of its close neighbour, Australia (we bet New Zealanders are happy about that!). It`s always interesting to learn more about the country, which is why we`ve put together this guide to LGBT rights in New Zealand so gay travellers are informed before they leave. Same-sex marriage has been legal since 2013, when a private member`s bill passed by a majority. There was also overwhelming public support. It also meant that same-sex couples could adopt.
Gay pride events are legal in New Zealand and were first held in the 1970s.  The Hero Parade, the centerpiece of the Hero Festival in Auckland, was held annually between 1992 and 2001. Parades were usually attended by more than a hundred thousand people (and at their peak up to two hundred thousand).  The Festival of Heroes continues to this day, mostly without a flagship parade. However, in February 2013, Auckland hosted a pride parade, the Auckland Pride Festival.  The Homosexuality Law Reform Act, enacted by the Governor General on July 11, 1986 and coming into force on August 8, decriminalized sexual relations between men 16 years of age and older. Men who have consensual sex with each other would no longer be prosecuted and sentenced to prison.