Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Your racism is showing

Tim Selwyn has always had a nasty racist streak, and unfortunately its on display again in his comments over Immigration's vile and discriminatory treatment of pregnant women, complete with screaming about "a short-circuit of the immigration system", "birthing holidays", and of course "effect[ing] a colonial outcome of lessening the proportion of indigenous people even faster than what we have now". Which sounds a lot like a local version of the BNP's fears of the English being "swamped in their own country"...

But in addition to the screaming racism, Selwyn is simply factually incorrect. This is not about "birthing holidays" or children gaining citizenship, because (as even he notes) the law now prevents that (yes, I opposed that change, but that's neither here nor there on this occasion). Neither is it about "short-circuiting the immigration system" - Immigration have shown their willingness to evict the parents of New Zealand citizens, and they're hardly going to show any greater concern when the child is not a citizen (again, I think Immigration are arseholes in those cases as well, but that's not particularly relevant here either). Finally, its not about medical costs; both examples highlighted in the last week have had both the ability and willingness to pay.

What this is about is discrimination against women. The elephant in the room which Selwyn steadfastly ignores is that only women get pregnant, and that its a pretty ordinary part of life. Classifying pregnancy as "unhealthy" (like tuberculosis, or ebola, or H1N1) is prima facie discriminatory against women - something we recognise very specifically in the Human Rights Act (the ban on gender-discrimination there is "sex, which includes pregnancy and childbirth"). Immigration has an exemption to the law, but that doesn't solve the moral problem. It is absolutely unacceptable (both legally and morally) in this country to fire a woman for being pregnant. How then can it be considered acceptable to cancel her visa deport her?

Visitors to this country are entitled to go about their ordinary lives for the duration of their stay. That means that no matter what their intentions some of them will be or will become pregnant while here. The current discriminatory policy is akin to sticking a "no girls allowed" sign up at the airport. Quite apart from the effects that would have on our tourism industry, it is simply morally untenable.