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NZ AIDS Foundation supports Gender Identity Bill

Press Release – 10 February 2005

NZ AIDS Foundation supports Gender Identity Bill

The experience of discrimination and prejudice can lead to greater vulnerability to HIV says the New Zealand AIDS Foundation today in an announcement supporting the Gender Identity Bill, which is being promoted by the MP for Waiarapa, Georgina Beyer.

The Bill would recognise gender identity as a prohibited ground for discrimination under the Human Rights Act.

NZAF Executive Director, Rachael Le Mesurier, says the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion, which is the operational framework of the AIDS Foundation, is clear in its statement that creating supportive environments for affected communities results in a direct improvement to the health of those people.

“The Foundation is especially concerned that male-to-female transgendered people are over-represented in HIV/AIDS statistics,” Ms Le Mesurier said. “It is difficult to access health information and services when you lack legal recognition or protection for your gender identity, and society sees you as an outcast. We also know that safe sex is a self-care behaviour that is enhanced when people feel that they belong to, and are accepted by, their communities and society at large. Legal protection against discrimination will go a long way toward achieving that.”

Ms Le Mesurier also noted that male-to-female transgender appeared to be over-represented in the sex work industry - often “survival sex” because prejudice and lack of protection made it difficult for transgender people to get other work - and were also at disproportionate risk of sexual assault. “This is not a situation conducive to HIV prevention,” she said.

ENDS

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