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SUFW and Christchurch City Council Resolve Dispute

Updated: Apr 13, 2023



April 13, 2023


In May 2021 Speak Up for Women's request to use Tūranga library was declined by Christchurch City Council.


In May 2022 Speak Up for Women and Daphna Whitmore filed a claim against Christchurch City Council in the Human Rights Tribunal, alleging that the declining of the library booking was unlawful discrimination on the basis of political opinion. That claim has now been settled and the parties have agreed to the following joint press release.


Speak Up for Women is pleased to note that they are welcome at Christchurch City Council facilities.

 

April 12, 2023


The Council and SUFW have agreed to resolve a dispute regarding Council’s decision in May 2021 to decline SUFW’s request to use Auahu Hīhī /Spark Place at the Tūranga Library for a public meeting to discuss proposed amendments to the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act.

When Council declined the meeting request in May 2021, it stated that SUFW’s planned event may conflict with Councils’ Customer Code of Conduct, “particularly… our expectation that all customers must respect the rights of others [and] treat other library users with courtesy” and that hosting the public event at Tūranga Library may send a message that Christchurch City Libraries are no longer safe and welcoming spaces for the whole community, and that Council was concerned about the potential risk of disruption at Turanga due to protests by members of the public.

At the time SUFW made its request, Council staff had been dealing with a series of serious incidents at Tūranga including threats of serious physical violence, incidents causing damage to Tūranga, and incidents requiring Police involvement. The incidents were unrelated and unknown to SUFW and its supporters. Due to these incidents, Council stands by its decision to decline the request.

Council’s statement was not intended to convey a message that SUFW, or its supporters, were unwelcome at Council facilities or that Council agreed with any of the characterisations of SUFW which had been received via internal or external complaints, or those posted online.

By resolving this dispute, Council wants to make clear that SUFW, its volunteers, and its supporters have been and remain welcome at Council’s facilities. Council has made a contribution towards costs incurred by SUFW in moving the meeting that was advertised at the Tūranga Library and towards SUFW’s legal costs to resolve this dispute.

 

The Christchurch City Council release can be found here.



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