â€śWhile we all celebrated our diversity at the Big Gay Out; soaking up the sun, meeting up with people we hadnâ€™t seen in a while; listening to politicians talking about marriage equality; I was thinking how great it will be when being present at a Big Gay Out event, knowing that transgender people had full rights.â€ť
Passionate transgender rights advocate Allyson Hamblett writes.
"But I was also thinking how many Big Gay Outs are needed before two very simple legislative amendments are made. Nelson Mandelaâ€™s quote, â€śit always seems impossible until itâ€™s doneâ€ť sums the feeling up; that itâ€™s difficult to ensure there is a political commitment to deal with these issues.
"While the passing of the Marriage (Definition of Marriage) will be momentous for everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity thereâ€™s a sense of how to gain the political power to drag gender identity into the Human Rights Act, and make the Citizenship Act (1977) more accommodating for trans people. The latter is supported by the Department of Internal Affairs (Citizenship) but we wait for the next available legislative vehicle â€“ which hopefully may happen sometime in the future â€“ I wish I had that patience.
"Granted there is a level of obsession when thinking about getting gender identity into the Human Rights Act and amending Citizenship Act (1977) to allow the reissue of citizenship certificates. Currently citizenship certificates can only be issued once, because they mark a historical moment in time. I took out New Zealand citizenship with my family before I knew that I was a transsexual. While, at the policy level, the Department of Internal Affairs has the power to issue evidentiary certificates that allow my current name to be shown on the evidentiary certificate; a legislative change is still needed.
"In 2008 the Department of Internal Affairs agreed that the Citizenship Act (1977) needed to be amended. At the moment there is no legislative vehicle for this amendment to be made. The Citizenship Amendment Bill was going to be that vehicle, but the government withdrew the bill from the order paper; and have not given any time . One response from the Minster of Internal Affairs gave me the impression the Citizenship Amendment Bill was withdrawn to allow the Department of Internal Affairs to come up with a range of changes that would include the ability of having citizenship certificates reissued.
"If one could guarantee that, as this article is being written, that the Department of Internal Affairs (Citizenship) was drafting the necessary legislation one could sit back knowing something was happening that would finally address this issue - but I'm not confident that any drafting is taking place without that legislative vehicle. We need to change gear from neutral."