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Work needed on gender identity equality

Wed 19 Mar 2014 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback

A Christchurch Pride Rainbow Politics event has heard New Zealand still has a long way to go to address inequalities around gender identity. Green MP Jan Logie said there were areas which need to be addressed to improve equality in New Zealand. She said improvements should be made in the collection of population based data in the New Zealand Census and New Zealand Health survey that is inclusive of gender identity, self-identified sex and sexual orientation statistics. “I don’t think you can get any more personal than gender and it’s a fundamental human right to define your own gender.” Logie was speaking at the Rainbow Politics event at the University of Canterbury and was joined by Labour MP Maryan Street and marriage celebrant Joanne Neilson in a panel discussion led by Christchurch Central Labour candidate Tony Milne. Street agreed there were still more things to be done within the glbti community to gain legal equality in New Zealand. “There are still things remaining on our agenda around gender identity where they still do not have equality before the law." She said there were laws that needed to be changed to deal with that, including the Births, Deaths and Marriages Act, the Citizens Act, the Adoption Act; the Care of Children Act, and the Vulnerable Children’s Act. She also said the Human Rights Act needed to be changed one more time to include gender identity as grounds for discrimination. “Adoption, gender identity and equality are the things we are yet to do.” Street emphasised the importance of remembering gay history and the times of protest and demonstrations of physical hatred against the queer community. The Marriage Equality Bill last year was a result of new legislation which has left the Labour MP with a huge amount of hope but she said non-legislative change is achieved by being “out there and waving that flag”. Other points of discussion from the evening were health and wellbeing, safety, bullying, suicide among queer youth, sex education, safety in the work place, funding for LGBTQIA youth projects, religion and the role New Zealand plays in leading other nations to adopt equality laws. Logie wanted to ensure schools included diversity in their sexual education programmes. “It’s so heteronormative and not focused on relationships or sexual desires.” Neilson said New Zealand had come a long way during her life as a transgender woman after transitioning when she was 18. When she was looking for work, one person told her the only work opportunities would be as a drag queen or prostitute. “We’ve came a long way baby. We’ve got equal rights, supposedly, but equal on paper, real life is quite different. Equal rights are great but we have to get the community to accept us.”    

Credit: Hunter Calder –Aoraki Polytechnic Journalism Student in Christchurch

First published: Wednesday, 19th March 2014 - 12:18pm

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