Suggested change to Birth, Deaths and Marriages Act welcomed
The Human Rights commission is delighted that the Governance Administration Committee has recommended a human rights approach in simplifying the process to update sex details on birth certificates.
By recommending a similar process to updating a passport or driver’s license, the Select Committee is bringing New Zealand in line with international human rights law and with the Government’s own Rainbow Policy.
The current process to change the sex ‘marker’ on a birth certificate is lengthy, expensive and requires medical evidence as well as the involvement of the Family Court. The Human Rights Commission and others called for the process to be an administrative change involving a signed signatory declaration.
Taine Polkinghorne, the Commission’s Human Rights Advisor – Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Sex Characteristics, said the recommendation from the Select Committee was a win for trans, gender diverse and intersex communities of New Zealand.
“A person’s gender identity is one of the most intimate areas of a person’s private life. The right to self-identification and recognition before the law is not a special right. It is a human right,” he said.
The change will ultimately help reduce discrimination by enabling people to update their documents via a simple, administrative process.
In its March submission to the Select Committee, the Human Rights Commission recommended that a third gender ‘marker’ or description should be added to the male and female options on a birth certificate.
“The current practice of restricting the change of nominated sex on a birth certificate to binary options, fails to accommodate the range of gender identities that individuals may have. Intersex people may experience a broad spectrum of biological variations and sex characteristics,” Mr Polkinghorne said.
A third option, such as non-specific, non-binary or indeterminate, should be developed in consultation with the transgender, intersex and gender diverse communities.