Campaign calls for a halt to sex self-ID
Auckland, 14 January 2019 – Today marks the start of a month-long campaign by grassroots group ‘Speak Up For Women’ calling for wider public consultation before controversial sex self-identification law is passed by the government.
Sex self-identification means anyone can change the sex on their birth certificate simply by making a statutory declaration that they ‘identify’ as a member of the opposite sex. Currently, this process requires a Family Court process and expert medical evidence.
The sex self-identification proposal is buried within clauses 22A-22J of the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration Bill, which is due for its second reading when Parliament reconvenes in February.
Speak Up For Women wants the government to put the proposal on hold until it can clarify how these changes will affect the Human Rights Act 1993, which contains a number of hard-won protections for biological women and girls.
The group also urges the government to review how the proposed changes will affect statistics and reporting for the effective monitoring of health, crime, sex discrimination, and the pay gap.
Ani O’Brien, Speak Up For Women spokesperson, says: “Building a world where transgender people can live freely without unreasonable discrimination is something our group strongly supports, but we do not believe it is right to try and achieve that end by weakening the human rights designed to support and protect females, especially without widespread and well-publicised consultation with the women and girls of New Zealand.
“These human rights include access to single-sex sports, schools, refuges, changing rooms, prisons, and rape crisis centres, and special measures to promote equality in civic and political life, such as quotas. It is currently unclear how the proposed changes in the BDMRR Bill will impact these sex-based human rights, and we’re calling for this discussion to be had before the Bill is rammed through parliament. Kiwis need more time to understand the implications of this change.”
To date, Tracey Martin, the Minister in charge of the Bill, has declined to comment on the concerns raised by Speak Up for Women. By comparison, a similar proposal in the UK to amend the Gender Recognition Act went to a twelve-week public consultation, the results of which are yet to be announced.
Speak Up for Women is asking that New Zealanders concerned about the implications of this Bill contact their MPs using the form on their website https://speakupforwomen.nz/email-your-mp/
Quick facts about sex self-ID in the BDMRR Bill:
- This significant law change was not signalled when the BDMRR Bill was first introduced into Parliament, but was raised at the Select Committee stage.
- The proposed changes were pushed through despite concerns raised by the Department of Internal Affairs in 2017. See DIA advice 5 April 2017 https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/sc/submissions-and-advice/document/51SCGA_ADV_51DBHOH_PET71439_1_A553781/department-of-internal-affairs-initial-briefing; and DIA supplementary advice 19 May 2017 https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/sc/submissions-and-advice/document/51SCGA_ADV_51DBHOH_PET71439_1_A557447/department-of-internal-affairs-further-briefing
- The genesis of sex self-ID’s inclusion in the Bill is a petition (no. 2014/0086) started by trans woman activist Allyson Hamblett, which attracted 53 signatures.
In contrast, following the inclusion of self-ID at the Select Committee stage, a petition (no. 2017/235) calling for consultation on the impact of self-ID attracted 1616 signatures in three weeks.
About Speak Up For Women
Speak Up For Women is a diverse group of ordinary New Zealanders – including teachers, academics, health professionals, care workers, activists, lawyers and students – with a shared concern about the impact of sex self-ID on the rights of women and girls. The group was formed to raise public awareness of the proposed changes to the BDMRRA which are currently passing unchallenged through Parliament.