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Commission welcomes transgender announcement

Human Rights Commission

22 August 2006

Human Rights Commission welcomes transgender announcement

The Human Rights Commission today welcomed the release of a Crown Law opinion clarifying the position of transgender people under the Human Rights Act.

Commissioner Joy Liddicoat responded to the announcement by the Attorney-General, saying "All New Zealanders have the right to be treated with dignity and respect. We are delighted that Crown Law agrees that the protection of the Human Rights Act applies equally to transgender people."

The Crown Law opinion accords with the approach taken by the Commission since February last year and is in line with United Kingdom, European and Canadian case law that transgender people are covered by human rights law regardless of whether or not they have had sex reassignment surgery.

"Our own research in 2004 and 2005, based on consultation with over 5,000 New Zealanders including transgender people and their families, showed that transgender people face discrimination. There were real and serious concerns about the human rights status of transgender people."

As a result the Commission recommended in the New Zealand Action Plan for Human Rights that an inquiry be held into the discrimination experienced by transgender people.

"The release of the opinion is helpful and timely as we have recently begun an Inquiry into the human rights of transgender people," said Commissioner Liddicoat.

The Commission's Inquiry is looking at:

* personal experiences of discrimination
* difficulties accessing health services
* the barriers that transgender people face when trying to have their gender legally recognised.

Commissioner Liddicoat said today that complaints to the Commission deal with issues that many people take for granted such as being able to walk down the street without fear, get a job, or go out for a drink with friends without being hassled.

"This Inquiry will make a significant contribution to eliminating stereotypes and reducing discrimination against transgender people."

The Commission is asking transgender people to contact them about their experiences of discrimination. The Inquiry will come up with strategies to reduce discrimination so that the human rights of transgender people are better protected.


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