New Zealand is not yet ready for a gay prime minister, Georgina Beyer, the world's first transsexual mayor and MP, said. The former Carterton District mayor has warned the Labour party to be realistic with appointing a gay leader because the country isn't ready yet to be ruled by a homosexual.
Ms Beyer's statement comes after openly gay politician Grant Robertson has confirmed he will be running for the Labour party leadership, which could make him a strong candidate for prime minister.
The position was left vacant when David Shearer resigned on Thursday.
"I think it's going to be a really good contest for the Labour Party. I think if candidates can show respect to each other and to the members and the process, I think this could give us a great spring-board for 2014," he was quoted by the Radio New Zealand News as saying.
He is seen as the main contender for the leadership, along with MP for New Lynn, David Cunliffe.
However, Ms Beyer, who served as an MP for Wairarrapa from 1999 to 2007, isn't convinced that the country can accept a gay prime minister at this stage.
"I don't think we're ready yet," she said. "It's not because Grant isn't capable, I think he's very capable... but the stigma that rests over those of us who are out, proud and gay who get into public office becomes untenable because you never shake it off and you get pigeon-holed."
New Zealand might even be less ready for a gay prime minister now than the country was a year ago since the Marriage Equality Bill, which legalises gay marriage, is enforced in August.
"I get the feeling out there that there's a little bit of a backlash to what is being labelled social engineering that is being constructed, and I just fear that Grant would be laboured with a lot of that baggage," Fairfax NZ News has quoted her.
In May, Ms Beyer, who was born as George Bertrand, has stepped down from the Wellington mayoralty campaign after she was diagnosed with chronic kidney failure. She served as the mayor of Carterton from 1995 to 2000.
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