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Rainbow Community Advocates To Discuss Anti-discrimination Laws And Access To Justice

Human rights protections for Rainbow communities, and how to access justice, are the focus of a two-day conference being hosted by Te Kāhui Tika Tangata Human Rights Commission in Auckland this week (21 and 22 November 2023).

Presentations at Te Kāhui Uenuku will cover a wide range of issues including human rights laws, the impact of racism and colonisation on takatāpui and Rainbow people, and recent community-led research.

“This conference is an opportunity for Rainbow communities to support, learn from each other, and affirm their human rights in person, at a time when Rainbow people in Aotearoa and around the world have reported increasing levels of feeling unsafe,” says Senior Human Rights Advisor, Taine Polkinghorne.

The conference will cover how to access key government services and remedies if Rainbow people experience discrimination or harassment.

About 150 people have registered to attend the in-person event.

“It’s timely to tautoko and celebrate Rainbow communities in response to increased incidents of online and offline harm, including acts of intimidation, vandalism, and violence,” says Polkinghorne.

By organising the conference, the Commission is investing in building the human rights and Te Tiriti o Waitangi capability of the Rainbow sector, a sector which is largely volunteer-run, community-based and dependent on fundraising.

The Commission has a mandate under legislation to monitor human rights progress independently of the government of the day, and to uphold the rights of all groups including Rainbow communities.

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“While progress for Rainbow communities has been uneven over time, the Commission is here to work constructively in good faith with government and with community groups to ensure that human rights are protected and promoted through our various functions,” says Polkinghorne.

Te Ahiwaru have gifted the conference name Te Kāhui Uenuku, reflecting the connections across our Rainbow communities.

The conference is made possible through philanthropic funding from main sponsor the Michael and Suzanne Borrin Foundation, which aims to provide legal education for priority populations requiring access to justice. The Commission has matched this funding. The Rainbow Wellbeing Legacy Fund, administered by the Rule Foundation, sponsored scholarships.

The programme and presenters are available here:


[1] definition of Access to Justice from the UN & NZ Law Society

Access to justice is a basic principle of the rule of law and allows people to have their voice heard, exercise their rights, challenge discrimination or hold decision-makers accountable. Delivery of justice should be impartial and non-discriminatory (United Nations). However, access to justice goes beyond courts and lawyers. It incorporates everything people do to try to resolve the disputes they have, including accessing information and support to prevent, identify and resolve disputes (NZ Law Society).

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