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Thu 24 Aug 2006 In: New Zealand Daily News

New Zealand's transgender advocacy group is “relieved” not to have to face a “barrage of negativity”, in Parliament and in public, following a favourable Crown Law opinion that removes the need for Labour MP Georgina Beyer to pursue her private member's bill that sought to clarify human rights protections for transgender people. The acting Solicitor-General's opinion, which drew on overseas jurisprudence, stated that “there is currently no reason to suppose that ‘sex discrimination' would be construed narrowly to deprive transgender people of protection under the Human Rights Act.” Beyer, the world's first transgender MP, said she is comfortable the issue has now been clarified with some legal authority. “It's good enough for me,” she told, and the Human Rights (Gender Identity) Amendment Bill will now be withdrawn from Parliament. Claudia McKay, president of transgender advocacy group Agender, says her “first reaction was one of relief” upon hearing the news, in “that the trans community will not have to face the barrage of negativity from some politicians that the campaign for the GI Bill would have engendered. I'm pleased we now have one less battle to fight.” “The Crown Law opinion effectively gives us everything that the trans community wanted from the GI Bill,” says McKay, yet admits to a “nagging feeling that having gender identity included in the Act as prohibited grounds for discrimination would have been more empowering for our community.” McKay says transgender people “have suffered discrimination in most facets of their lives in the past and we hope now that will indeed be history.” The Crown Law opinion is “important simply because trans people are not second class citizens, and, in fact, the vast majority of us make significant but unheralded contributions to society and it is long overdue that we be treated equally with all other New Zealanders,” said McKay. McKay pays particular tribute to the Rainbow Labour sector of the Labour Party “who supported the concept of a clear inclusion of transgender people in the Human Rights Act. In particular, Michael Wilson deserves special mention for his considerable legal input into the process.”     Ref: (d)

Credit: News Staff

First published: Thursday, 24th August 2006 - 12:00pm

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