Friday, August 29, 2008

Transgender discrimination in Wellington

Back in the mists of time, Labour MP Georgina Beyer introduced a Human Rights (Gender Identity) Amendment Bill to amend the Human Rights Act to outlaw discrimination against transsexuals, transvestites, transgenders, and cross-dressers. The bill was eventually withdrawn after much pressure from the government (which didn't want a repeat of the divisive civil unions debate - cowards). But as part of that process, the government produced a legal opinion [PDF] stating that discrimination on the grounds of gender identity was already covered by the existing "sex discrimination" clause.

Its time for the government to put its money where its mouth is. Earlier in the month, a Wellington bar evicted three drag queens after a blatant display of homophobia from staff. In response, Wellington's transgender community planned a "drag-in" protest. They were locked out, apparently on the basis of their gender identity. This sort of discrimination is simply unacceptable, no matter who it is done to, and the Human Rights Commission should investigate. This may lead to court action which tests the validity of Crown Law's opinion, but that's a winning proposition either way: either it shows that sex includes gender identity, or it shows that Beyer's amendments really are necessary and should be passed ASAP.