Frequently Asked Questions

It is unlawful for anyone to deny goods or services to the public, or to provide them on less favourable terms or conditions, because of any of the 13 grounds of discrimination (including sexual orientation) in the Human Rights Act 1993.

Some exceptions apply to clubs, courses and counselling, public decency or safety, skill, insurance, sport, travel services, reduced charges and disability.

In December 2017, the Supreme Court of the United States heard arguments in the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v Colorado Civil Rights Commission regarding a discrimination claim where a cake shop owner refused to bake a cake for a couple’s same-sex marriage. The cake maker argued that being forced to make the cake violated his freedom of expression and religion. The decision is due early 2018.

The UK Supreme Court in Northern Ireland is set to consider a similar case in April 2018 after the Court of Appeal found that a Christian-owned bakery unlawfully discriminated against the claimant when it refused to make him a cake with a pro-gay message on it.

A similar case has not been tested in the New Zealand courts but those who refuse to provide facilities, goods or services to same sex couples could raise similar arguments under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act.