FAQs

What are human rights?

To find out what human rights are, click here

What are my rights in care? 

As an LGBTQI+ person in care, you are protected from discrimination by the Human Rights Act of 1993, and are entitled to the same quality of care as all New Zealanders.

The Human Rights Act makes it unlawful to discriminate based on:

Sex – includes pregnancy and childbirth, and gender identity (including transgender and intersex)

and

Sexual orientation – being heterosexual, homosexual, lesbian or bisexual.

Born Free and Equal is the Commission’s guide on human rights, sexual orientation, sex and gender identity and who can assist you if you have been discriminated against. You can read it here.

What are my rights at school?

As an LGBTQI+ person in school, you are entitled to the same treatment and level of education as all students. You are protected from discrimination by the Human Rights Act of 1993. 

The Human Rights Act makes it unlawful to discriminate based on:

Sex – includes pregnancy and childbirth, and gender identity (including transgender and intersex)

and

Sexual orientation – being heterosexual, homosexual, lesbian or bisexual.

Born Free and Equal is the Commission’s guide on human rights, sexual orientation, sex and gender identity and who can assist you if you have been discriminated against. You can read it here.

What are my rights in housing?

It is unlawful to be discriminated against by the property owner or their agent when applying to rent a house because of your sex or sexual orientation.

Additionally, it is illegal for any commercially operated accommodation to deny you accommodation based on your sexual orientation. You can read more about your housing rights here.

What are my rights as an employee or potential employee?

Employers cannot refuse to employ someone based on their sexual orientation, but there are a limited number of situations where the Human Rights Act of 1993 states that the sexual orientation of a job applicant can be taken into account.

The Act says sexual orientation means being heterosexual or homosexual or lesbian or bisexual.

You can read more about these exceptions here, under "Sexual Orientation".

It is up to the applicant/employee as to whether or not they disclose that they are transgender, but in most cases an employer cannot directly ask. 

There are some exceptions to this which you can find here under "Transgender".

Furthermore, unless the employer requires previous name details from all employees, asking a transgender person for their previous name details would be discriminatory. You can read more about this here under "Transgender".

Employment New Zealand has more information for employers and employees which you can find here.

What are my health care rights as a disabled person?

As someone in the LGBTQI+ community, you are entitled to the same health care rights as all other New Zealanders, and are protected from discrimination by the Human Rights Act of 1993.

The Human Rights Act makes it unlawful to discriminate based on:

Sex – includes pregnancy and childbirth, and gender identity (including transgender and intersex)

and

Sexual orientation – being heterosexual, homosexual, lesbian or bisexual.

Born Free and Equal is the Commission’s guide on human rights, sexual orientation, sex and gender identity and who can assist you if you have been discriminated against. You can read it here.

What are my rights regarding mental health treatment?

Your rights as an LGBTQI+ person suffering from a mental health illness are covered by the Human Rights Act of 1993, and you are entitled to the same rights as all New Zealanders as stated under the Mental Health Act of 1992.

The Human Rights Act makes it unlawful to discriminate based on:

Sex – includes pregnancy and childbirth, gender identity, and discrimination against transgender

and

Sexual orientation – being heterosexual, homosexual, lesbian or bisexual.

Born Free and Equal is the Commission’s guide on human rights, sexual orientation, sex and gender identity and who can assist you if you have been discriminated against. You can read it here.

What are my custody rights as an LGBTQI+ parent in the family court?

When disputing the custody of a child, the best interests of the child/children should always be the main priority. If, for any reason, living with a same sex couple would be detrimental to the child/children, then this should be taken into consideration when deciding on custody rights.

In no case should the sexual orientation of either parent be the sole reason for making a final decision on which parent is awarded custody. 

What are my rights as a refugee or migrant in Aotearoa? 

If you are recognised as a refugee or protected person you can stay in New Zealand permanently. You can apply for a permanent resident visa.

As an LGBTQI+ refugee or migrant, you are entitled to the same human rights as all New Zealanders under the Human Rights Act 1993.

The Human Rights Act makes it unlawful to discriminate based on:

Sex – includes pregnancy and childbirth, gender identity, and discrimination against transgender

and

Sexual orientation – being heterosexual, homosexual, lesbian or bisexual.

You can read the full rights of migrants in New Zealand here

Born Free and Equal is the Commission’s guide on human rights, sexual orientation, sex and gender identity and who can assist you if you have been discriminated against. You can read it here.

I'm HIV positive, what are my rights? 

It is unlawful to discriminate against people with the HIV virus. The definition of disability in the Act includes the presence of organisms in the body capable of causing illness.

However, the Act does have a risk of harm exception which could be relevant depending on the duties of the job. You can read more about this here under "Risk of Harm".

What are my rights regarding informed consent as a transgender person?

Providing you give informed consent and meet the eligibility criteria, you can commence the transitioning process.

The medical guidelines for beginning the physical transition toward your identified gender can be found here

This includes real life experience, hormone therapy, and surgery. In New Zealand you must be at least 18 years old before starting hormone therapy. 

What are my rights in prison as a transgender/intersex person?

New requirements came in an amendment made to the Corrections Regulations 2005 in February 2014 which determine whether transgender or intersex prisoners should be accommodated in a male or female prison. This includes the following two elements:

  • If a prisoner's birth certificate has been amended to record a different sex from what was recorded at birth, the prisoner has the right to be placed in the prison that reflects the gender on the revised certificate.
  • A transgender prisoner who has not had their sex changed on their birth certificate may apply to the Chief Executive of the Department of Corrections for placement that reflects their identified gender. A number of factors will be considered, related to the prisoner's commitment to living as a member of their nominated gender, and the safety of the prisoner, and other prisoners. 
If the crime committed relates to a serious sexual offence against a person of their identified gender, or if the prisoner has been released from a prison sentence for such an offence in the past seven years, then the prisoner will not be able to apply to the Chief Executive. 
 
Should the prisoner be subject to 'rub-down' searches, these will be consistent with the prisoner's placement in either a male or female prison. If a prisoner is placed in a women's prison, they will be managed by female staff and vice versa in a male prison.

What rights and protections do people have to access public bathrooms congruent with their gender identity?

The Human Rights Act (HRA) prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex (which has been interpreted to include gender identity)  or sexual orientation. The HRA enables private sector organisations to provide separate facilities for each sex, but does not specify the nature or number of toileting facilities that an organization must provide.

In the employment context, Employment New Zealand has affirmed the right of transgender people to use facilities that match their gender identity, stating that:

“An employee should be able to use facilities that match their gender identity, for example: trans women should be able to use a women’s toilet, and trans men should be able to use a men’s toilet. While a unisex toilet is a positive way to ensure facilities are inclusive (and may be more comfortable for a trans person early in their transition), a trans employee should not be stopped from using the appropriate single sex toilet.”

Source: employment.govt.nz

The HRA applies slightly differently to public sector organisations that have public functions that are established under law - such as a state school, public hospital or government agency, for example. The HRA does not set out specific exceptions or examples of things they can and can’t do – rather it requires that that a public organisation may only limit a person’s right to be free from discrimination if they can prove that doing so can be justified in a free and democratic society. 

Anyone who believes that they have been discriminated against is able to complaint to the Human Rights Commission and their complaint would be considered in accordance with our usual processes.

What are my rights regarding conversion therapy?

Conversion therapy is illegal in New Zealand. This means that as a member of the LGBTQI+ community, you have the right to not be subject to any forms of therapy that are carried out in an attempt to change your sexual orientation or gender identity. 

What are my rights as intersex?

Intersex people are protected against discrimination under the Human Rights Act 1993 and have the same rights as all other people to the full protection and promotion of their human rights.

You can find the intersex fact sheet here, and more information on the rights of intersex people here.