Te Whakaiti Tangata: Discrimination

Human Rights Protections

Discrimination occurs when a person is treated differently from another person in the same or similar circumstances and suffers some detriment as a result. The Human Rights Act (HRA) 1993 protects people in New Zealand from discrimination on certain grounds (such as sex or race) and in certain areas (such as employment or education). In February, 2005 the Commission adopted the following policies:

i. discrimination against transgender people falls within the grounds of sex
discrimination in the HRA;

ii. the distinction as to whether a transgender person is pre or post-operative
should not be determinative of the gender the law should regard the
person as having; and

iii. the provisions of the HRA apply to a transgender person who has
commenced, or is somewhere through the process of taking decisive
steps to live fully and permanently in the sex opposite to that assigned to
them at birth.

A recent Crown Law Office opinion supports the view that trans people are covered by the HRA.

Trans people and other submitters were asked if they had experienced discrimination and, if so, to describe what had happened. Some submitters have chosen to lodge a complaint with the Commission.

The vast majority (83%) of submitters described some form of discrimination. In those 108 submissions, the common areas were:

– employment (75 submissions, 59%)

- government policies or practices (45 submissions, 35%)

- access to goods and services (43 submissions, 34%)

- education (33 submissions, 26%)

A smaller proportion of submitters mentioned concerns about:

- access to public places (15 submissions,12%)

- housing (14 submissions,11%)

In addition, 35 submissions, 27%, identified concerns about security, safety and harassment.

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