Tuesday, August 22, 2006



Transgender discrimination is sex discrimination?

Attorney-General Michael Cullen has released a legal opinion from the Solicitor-General on transgender discrimination and the Human Rights Act [PDF]. The issue never having been tested in New Zealand courts, the opinion reviews overseas cases from the UK, US, Canada and South Africa, all of which have dealt with transgender discrimination under existing provisions barring discrimination on the basis of sex. The Solicitor-General concludes that "these decisions will be influential on New Zealand courts", and that therefore

there is currently no reason to suppose that "sex discrimination" would be construed narrowly to deprive transgender people of protection under the Human Rights Act.

This pretty much obviates the need for Georgina Beyer's Human Rights (Gender Identity) Amendment Bill, except for one issue: human rights laws aren't just there to give courses of action in court, but also to signal to the public that discrimination is unacceptable. A clear statement of law protecting the trans-community is preferable to one buried in precedent and government legal advice. Of course, saying that is probably "political correctness"...

Update: Beyer has responded and announced that she will be withdrawing her bill. Face-saving all round...

3 comments:

However, the trans community has been waiting for the last thirteen years for something like this to happen. I'm happy for them. I don't care whether it is based on precedent and Commonwealth case law from elsewhere, I'm just glad that it's finally happened...

Craig

Posted by Anonymous : 8/22/2006 08:48:00 PM

ditto on what Craig wrote: no matter the impetus...good stuff, this!

Posted by catnapping : 8/23/2006 01:06:00 PM

GREAT TO SEE THE LABOUR PARTY LEADERSHIP QUOTE SOL-GENERAL'S WORD AS BEING AUTHORATATIVE.....

(But can't help noticing the auditor-general report concluding LABOUR stole taxpayers' money to spend on Labour propaganda was based on SOL-GENERAL's legal opinion..)

Posted by Anonymous : 8/23/2006 11:16:00 PM