A leading figure in the British Society for the Study of Sex Psychology (BSSP) and president of the Sex Education Society, he advocated for the form of outdated laws against homosexuality.
Born on 21 January 1892 at Paddington, Sydney, he was the eleventh and last child of Henry Zions, gentleman, and his London-born wife Clara, née Cohen. Henry was a Jewish emigrant from Poland who had changed his surname from Zajac. Educated at Fort Street Model School, Norman won prizes for acting, elocution and debating.
Having studied medicine at the University of Sydney, Norman held six-month resident appointments at Sydney Hospital and the Royal Hospital for Women, Paddington, where his interest in obstetrics and gynaecology was aroused. From 1915 he served part time in the Militia as captain, Australian Army Medical Corps. In 1919 he left for Europe, via Africa, again working his passage. He took what he regarded as a more acceptable surname, Haire, derived from the Polish word 'zajac', meaning a hare.
Arriving in London, Haire was house surgeon at the Hampstead General and North West London Hospital until December 1920. That year he attended a meeting of the Malthusian League. In 1921, when the league established one of the earliest birth-control clinics in Britain, the Walworth Women's Welfare Centre, he was appointed medical officer-in-charge and began working part time in the women's department of the London Lock Hospital.
In 1920 Haire had visited Berlin. There he was involved with the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft and its director Dr Magnus Hirschfeld. Haire was later to say that Germany was his spiritual home. He quickly became fluent in the language and introduced a number of German publications on sexual science to the English-speaking world in the 1920s and 1930s. In 1920 Haire had also contacted Havelock Ellis who was something of a father-figure to him; they corresponded and met frequently, though Ellis endeavoured at times to distance himself from his protégé.
Haire rapidly became the most prominent sexologist in Britain. As secretary of the World League for Sexual Reform, he organized its third congress (London, 1929), which was remarkable for the number attending, their diversity of country of origin and background, and the range of knowledge of those presenting papers. During these years he wrote several books - the most important of which was Hymen (1927).
In the area of birth control he pioneered the Haire vaginal pessary and introduced into Britain an intra-uterine device (the Grafenberg 'silver' ring); in another clinical development, he promoted male sexual rejuvenation by the Steinach operation (bilateral vasectomy). In the mid-1930s he acquired a country estate at Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire. The outbreak of World War II and the real threat to Britain in 1940 led him to return to Australia.
In Sydney in late 1940 Haire began practice in Macquarie Street. His work was published in a book, Sex Talks (1946). His most renowned appearance, however, was in the Australian Broadcasting Commission's 'Nation's Forum of the Air' (23 August 1944): in a debate on 'Population Unlimited', he and Jessie Street supported the negative and were opposed by Dame Enid Lyons and Colin Clark, an economist. Haire was strongly attacked in the House of Representatives after the debate. By 1946 he was ready to return to England.
In London again, it was a battle. Many of his old associates had died and others did not wish to meet him. He tried to revive the Sex Education Society, and founded and partly financed the Journal of Sex Education (1948-52). In 1950 he visited America where he suffered a heart attack from which he never completely recovered. He died of ischaemic cardiac failure in King's College Hospital, London.
Haire had never married: some considered him homosexual, but he was never clearly active; others thought him a 'neuter'.