An award-winning Auckland University mathematics professor will leave the country after his residency application was rejected because of his stepson's autism.
Professor Dimitri Leemans moved to New Zealand from Belgium in August 2011 with his wife, Francoise Duperoux, their 5-year-old daughter, Margaux, and his stepson, 13-year-old Peter Gourle, after winning a job at Auckland University.
Leemans and his family applied for residency in March 2014. But in September last year, INZ said in a letter: "We have declined your application for residence because Peter does not meet the health requirements to be granted residence in New Zealand and is not eligible for a medical waiver."
Its explicitly discriminatory on the basis of health - a prohibited ground of discrimination - but immigration decisions are specifically excluded from the jurisdiction of the Human Rights Act. Meaning Immigration can be racist, bigoted, and (as in this case) discriminate against the disabled with impunity.
Leemans has decided not to appeal the decision, because who would? We've made it clear that he's not welcome, that we see his son as less than human, a burden to be excluded rather than as a potential New Zealander. Its a clear loss to New Zealand. But more than that: it is simply, flat-out wrong. And the message it sends to non-neurotypical New Zealanders is that they don't really belong here either.