What is unlawful discrimination?

Ethical belief

What does the Human Rights Act mean by ethical belief?

The ground of ethical belief covers the lack of a religious belief, whether in respect of a particular religion or religions or all religions.

What does the Human Rights Act say about ethical belief?

It is unlawful to discriminate on the ground of ethical belief in any of the prohibited areas of public life.

What exceptions are there applying to ethical belief?

There are a number of circumstances where it is not unlawful to discriminate on the ground of ethical belief. These include:

In employment (includes pre-employment and advertising):

  • Crew of non-New Zealand ships and aircraft.
  • Work involving national security.
  • Work performed outside New Zealand.
  • Domestic employment in a private household.
  • Sole or principal duties are, or substantially the same as, a priest, pastor among adherents to that belief; or being a teacher in a private school; or a social worker on behalf of an organisation whose members largely comprise adherents of that belief.

In accommodation:

  • Shared residential accommodation.
  • Hostels and institutions.

Further information

Human rights enquiries & complaints guide (PDF Version).
Available in Maori, Samoan, Tongan, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional) and Hindi.

Further information about ethical belief.