When the United Nations recently asked Justice Minister Andrew Little about the current status of New Zealand's antidiscrimination laws and asked why gender identity wasn't directly included, Mr Little confirmed that would not be the case for much longer- and that the government intended to amend the legislation accordingly.
It has been twenty six years since the Human Rights Act 1993 was last amended, and disability rights, lesbian, gay and bisexual sexual orientation and HIV status were all added at the time. Since then, former Solicitor-General Michael Cullen announced a Crown Law Office opinion that read gender identity into 'sex', an existing grounds of discrimination, Dakota Hemmingson's Employment Relations Authority case, which indicated that it did apply to employment discrimination at least, Louisa Wall's Supplementary Order Paper 423, which sought to add gender identity concretely to antidiscrimination laws under the Statutes Amendment Act, and the Human Rights Commission's Transgender Inquiry. Meanwhile, transgender students are allowed to use whatever ablutionary and changing room provisions suit their reassigned gender, and transgender soldiers serve within the New Zealand armed forces. At the same time, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Croatia, France, Germany, South Africa, Israel, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Australia all directly prohibit gender identity discrimination when it comes to employment, accomodation, and goods and services provision (although resourcing enforcement is difficult in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh). In other words, all of the other senior British Commonwealth nations have beaten New Zealand to a long overdue phase of legislative reform. The National Party has to shoulder much of the blame for this, as it could have taken urgency at any time during its previous nine year tenure and amended the Human Rights Act accordingly. Instead of that, Judith Collins and Amy Adams obstructed such long overdue reform while serving as Justice Minister under the Key and English administrations. By contrast, the late Katherine O'Regan, architect of the Human Rights Act changes in 1993, apologised to the transgender community for not insuring its inclusion at that stage. Typically too, the National Party has become defensive about United Nations observations related to the above. Given its inertia on this particular legislative reform issue, it would do well to acknowledge that change is long overdue and that it will vote with the government to amend the legislation.
And before Family First starts prattling about 'gender ideology,' might one note that the American Academy of Family Physicians, American Academy of Nursing, American Academy of Pediatrics, American College of Nurse-Midwives, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Counselling Association, American Medical Association, American Osteopathic Association, American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, American Public Health Association, American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Endocrine Society, US National Association of Social Workers, US National Commission on Correctional Health Care and World Medical Association all concur about the legitimacy of gender dysphoria as a medical diagnosis, best practice healthcare (including hormone therapy and reassignment surgery under medical auspices) and do so on the basis of evidence-based research, reported in peer-reviewed journals. Evidence based science trumps unsubtantiated religious conservative "natural law" dogma, which is mere assertion and sectarian religious ideology without mainstream scientific verification.
There is no good case to continue to obstruct gender identity's direct inclusion within New Zealand antidiscrimination legislation. So let's do this.
Transcend Legal: Medical Organisation Statements on Gender Reassignment: www.transcendlegal.org/medical-organization-statements
Sarah Murphy: "NZ told to improve human rights of LGBT people" Radio New Zealand: 23.01.2019: www.radionz.co.nz/news/political/380687/nz-told-to-improve-human-rights-of-lgbtqi-people
"UN Address An Insult to New Zealand" Scoop: 22.01.2019: www.scoop.co.nz/stories/PA1901/S00058/united-nations-address-an-insult-to-new-zealand.htm
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