5 May 2014
Hon Chester Borrows
Member in charge – Statutes Amendment Bill (No 4)
Cc: Chairperson of the Government Administration Committee – Ruth Dyson
Dear Mr Borrows
We would like to bring to your attention that a Labour MP is trying to introduce a highly controversial piece of legislation through Parliament in a way that avoids the public debate and focus that it deserves.
Of most concern is that it is being done under the shadow of the Statutes Amendment Bill (No 4) which has just had its first reading in Parliament, but is a bill which deals with ‘technical, short, and non-controversial amendments to a range of Acts’. This proposed amendment is anything but non-controversial.
The controversial proposal by Labour MP Louisa Wall to introduce an SOP which is aimed to include ‘gender identity’ as a prohibited ground of discrimination under the Human Rights Act is unnecessary, and has been dubbed the “bathroom bill” in overseas jurisdictions because of experiences where it gives the opportunity for men who pretend to be transgender a legal alibi to use women’s bathrooms, showers, and changing rooms at public facilities.
Among the implications of these proposals is that sex-specific facilities, including gyms like Contours and swimming pools who have dedicated times for females only, plus the use of men’s and women’s public toilets and changing rooms, could no longer be limited on the basis of a person’s actual biological sex. But the expectation of parents and families is to see people of the same gender in places like public toilets and changing rooms.
The previous Labour government distanced itself in 2006 from similar legislation introduced as a private members bill by Labour MP Georgina Beyer, and it was subsequently withdrawn after legal opinions from the Solicitor General, the Attorney General Michael Cullen and the Human Rights Commission stated the bill was unnecessary.
In view of the confusion experienced overseas by such legislation, it is not surprising that the United Nations has repeatedly rejected the terms ‘sexual identity’ and ‘sexual expression’ as a protected right partly because of confusion around its definition. Those with gender dissatisfaction must have the same rights as all New Zealanders, but should not be given special rights which place others at risk.
Family First would therefore request that any submissions on this issue to the Government Administration Committee during the submission process for the Statutes Amendment Bill be rejected and deemed as out of the jurisdiction of this bill.
Any highly contentious issue like this should be exposed to full and open public debate as a separate bill.