Call to put proposed law changes on hold

By Kawe Roes

A women's rights group wants the government to put the brakes on proposed law changes that would allow transgender people to self-identify their sex rather than going to court to change their sex on birth certificates, passports and driver licences.

The new law would allow trans people to 'declare' they are female or male without any robust checks. The current law requires approval from the Family Court. 

Speak Up For Women wants the government to put the proposed bill on hold until it can clarify how the changes will affect the Human Rights Act 1993.

The sex self-identification proposal is buried within clauses 22A-22J of the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration Bill, which is due for its second reading when Parliament reconvenes in February.  

The group is urging the government to review how the proposed changes will affect statistics and reporting for the effective monitoring of health, crime, sex discrimination, and the pay gap. 

Speak Up For Women spokesperson  Ani O’Brien says, “Building a world where transgender people can live freely without unreasonable discrimination is something our group strongly supports, but we do not believe it is right to try and achieve that end by weakening the human rights designed to support and protect females, especially without widespread and well-publicised consultation with the women and girls of New Zealand.

“These human rights include access to single-sex sports, schools, refuges, changing rooms, prisons, and rape crisis centres, and special measures to promote equality in civic and political life, such as quotas. 

It is currently unclear how the proposed changes in the BDMRR Bill will impact these sex-based human rights, and we’re calling for this discussion to be had before the Bill is rammed through parliament. Kiwis need more time to understand the implications of this change.” 

The Minister in charge of the Bill, Tracey Martin, has declined to comment on the concerns raised by Speak Up for Women.

A similar proposal in the UK to amend the Gender Recognition Act reached a twelve-week public consultation, the results of which are yet to be announced.