August 5th 2023
Speak Up for Women (SUFW) are pleased to see the introduction of The Human Rights (Prohibition of Discrimination on Grounds of Gender Identity or Expression, and Variations of Sex Characteristics) Amendment Bill, a Members Bill under the name of Dr Elizabeth Kerekere.
SUFW believe that Sex Matters. Sex (which includes variations of sex characteristics), gender identity and gender expression are entirely different concepts and should be treated independently. Sex is immutable and binary and there are particular circumstances when it must be respected and recognised. These circumstances have historically been clear in the Human Rights Act 1993 and include providing legal and exclusive access to particular services, spaces and sports - on the basis of sex.
Our Vision is for women and girls to maintain sex-based services, spaces and opportunities in New Zealand.
The Bill introduced by Dr Kerekere seeks to differentiate between sex, gender identity and gender expression in law and we welcome this.
Adding gender identity and expression to the list of prohibited grounds for discrimination provides legal protection for gender diverse people while not undermining the rights that are currently provided to women on the basis of sex. However we believe that gender identity should be included in the Act as a subsection of either religious belief 21(c) or ethical belief 21(d).
Gender identity has no material existence - it is a subjective belief akin to a religion and should be treated as such in law. It is not necessary to hold a religious belief in order to understand that protection may be required by those who do and it is not discrimination to disagree with a belief or ideology.
Dr Kerekere’s Bill specifically includes the addition of “gender identity or expression” into two sections (45 and 59) of the Human Rights Act 1993 that consider exceptions in relation to courses and counselling. Gender identity and gender expression are two separate concepts and should not be treated as one or the same.
To include a provision to add gender identity to the Act means that transgender people are able to attend counselling sessions and courses that are run exclusively for them.
SUFW particularly welcomes these additions as it clarifies that women are also able to attend courses and counselling exclusively for them.