Having talked a big game in the lead up to this year’s New Zealand general election, promising among other things, to ban conversion therapy if re-elected, Jacinda Ardern has this week made history by appointing an openly gay Deputy Prime Minister in the form of Grant Robertson.

Robertson is one of 13 LGBTQI politicians to be elected during the October 17 New Zealand elections. Having served as a Minister of Parliament for Wellington Central since 2008, he is set to retain his position as Minister of Finance, of which he has served since 2017. He replaces outgoing Winston Peters following the New Zealand First party’s disastrous election results.  

A close political ally of Ardern, across his career, Robertson has ‘strived to be a minister for all New Zealanders, but also thinks that ‘it’s important for younger members of the LGBTQI community to see people they identify with, taking on top roles.

“I still get a lot of emails and messages from young gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people who look towards us to provide that kind of role-modelling,” Robertson said. “So, I’ll keep doing my job the way that I’ve been doing it, but I’m very proud to have the role.”

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 A strong supporter of New Zealand’s LGBTQI community, Ardern became the first Prime Minister in 2018 to march in Auckland Pride. The young leader has also spoke candidly about her upbringing in a Mormon household, and how she began questioning her faith after living with three gay friends in a share house.

Among Ardern’s newly announced cabinet is also strong representation of women and First Nations People, including several Maori Law Makers with Nanaia Mahuta, promoted to the role of Foreign Minister, and Kelvin Davis to the role of Minister for Children.

Delivering news of the new cabinet line-up, Ardern described it as “incredibly diverse” and that all positions were decided upon merit, saying “I think one of the amazing things about New Zealand is that we are often in a space now where all of these questions (about diversity) become secondary, the representation is there. And that is not the first consideration.”

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