Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression, and Sex Characteristics

Our Work

Sexual orientation and gender identity rights are a priority for the Commission. We want people to access their rights and meet their responsibilities.

We undertake this work through specific projects, through ongoing advocacy and through supporting others’ efforts. We work, sometimes in partnership, with community organisations, tangata whenua, government, business, and the media.

It is important to us that all our work is informed by those who identify as part of the LGBTI+ Community.

Our work in this area is led by Commissioner Richard Tankersley.

Pink Shirt Day 

The Commission continues to support Pink Shirt Day and its stand against homophobic bullying each year.

To read more, click here

The Inquiry into Discrimination Experienced by Transgender

The Commission has been looking into the discrimination that transgender people face since 2006, when the inquiry was carried out.

You can read the main points of the 2008 report as well as the work the Commission is doing to follow the report here.

The National Day of Silence

The Commission is an official supporter of this day of action in which students vow to take a form of silence to call attention to the silencing effect of homophobic, biphobic, and transphobic bullying, name-calling, and harassment in schools.

You can find out more here

Transgender People: facts and information resource

The Commission has put together a resource which provides information, workshop idea, and answers to frequently asked questions regarding transgender people.

You can view the resource here

Speaking Out Proud conference

The New Zealand Human Rights Commission held a moderated 'open hearing' where prepared questions were delivered to politicians. The session was chaired by Richard Tankersley from the Human Rights Commission.

You can listen to the full Speaking Out Proud conference here

Rainbow Tick certification

The Commission has been successful in achieving the Rainbow Tick and has been assessed as meeting the NZ Standard, gender and sexual diversity in employment. We are the first public sector agency to achieve the Rainbow Standard and the Tick.

You can read more about what it requires to achieve the Rainbow Tick here, and you can read our press release here.

ILGA World Conference Bid

The New Zealand Human Rights Commission supported the successful bid for the 2018 ILGA World Conference that will be held in Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand.

The bid has been prepared by three organisations from our NZ LGBTQI+ community: Intersex Trust of Aotearoa New Zealand, Rainbow Youth, and Tiwhanawhana Trust.

You can watch Richard Tankersley's message here

Intersex Project

Issues for people born intersex are complex and controversial. This reflects the extraordinarily wide range of conditions involved, their relative rarity and the lack of adequate long-term outcome data. Management of these conditions needs a comprehensive multidisciplinary team approach that supports the needs (both physical and psychological) of those affected, and their families.

While substantial change in the care of intersex children has occurred over the past 20 years, ethical, medical and human rights concerns have been raised by intersex advocates, academics, the New Zealand Human Rights Commission and international bodies (including the United Nations Human Rights Council, World Health Organisation and the UN Special Rapporteur on torture) regarding practice in this area, with calls for recognition of bodily integrity and an end to treatments aimed solely at “normalising” sex.

In order to facilitate Government’s commitment, the Intersex Trust Aotearoa New Zealand and the New Zealand Human Rights Commission co-hosted a roundtable in April 2016, that brought together multiple stakeholders to address New Zealand’s current practice of genital normalisation on intersex children. The report of the roundtable can be found here. This project implements the outcomes of the Roundtable. The partners to this work are the Intersex Trust Aotearoa New Zealand (ITANZ) and Tiwhanawhana Trust (Takatāpui / tangata whenua).

One of the outcomes of the project to date has been the four recommendations related to intersex children as an outcome of New Zealand's review under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

  • Develop and implement a child rights-based health care protocol for intersex children, setting the procedures and steps to be followed by health teams, ensuring that no one is subjected to unnecessary medical or surgical treatment during infancy or childhood, guaranteeing the rights of children to bodily integrity, autonomy and self-determination, and provide families with intersex children with adequate counselling and support;

  • Promptly investigate incidents of surgical and other medical treatment of intersex children without informed consent and adopt legal provisions to provide redress to victims of such treatment, including adequate compensation;

  • Educate and train medical and psychological professionals on the range of biological and physical sexual diversity and on the consequences of unnecessary surgical and other medical interventions on intersex children;

  • Extend free access to surgical interventions and medical treatment related to their intersex condition to intersex children between the age of 16 and 18.
Listen to a from the IDAHOBIT event held at Parliament. The panel presentation marked the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, Biphobia, and Intersexphobia. The recording features, among others, Human Rights Commissioner Richard Tankersley and the Commission's Senior Human Rights Specialist Moana Erurera. Listen here

Advocacy through international human rights mechanisms