Green Party's Dr Elizabeth Kerekere wants to amend Human Rights Act to include gender identity, expression as prohibited grounds of discrimination

Dr Elizabeth Kerekere.
Dr Elizabeth Kerekere. Photo credit: Parliament TV

A new Green Party MP has laid out her plans to introduce a Member's Bill to amend the Human Rights Act to include gender identity, gender expression, and sex characteristics as prohibited grounds of discrimination.

In her maiden speech in Parliament on Wednesday, Dr Elizabeth Kerekere said ending discrimination and prejudice against takatāpui and rainbow communities will be her main priority.

"All people deserve acceptance and equal opportunities, no matter their gender identity, gender expression, or sex characteristics. Yet for too long people in our rainbow community have been marginalised," she says.

Currently, there are 13 prohibited grounds of discrimination in the Human Rights Act, but none include a person's gender and how they identify.

Kerekere, who is also the Green Party's spokesperson for rainbow communities, says historically, Te Ao Māori accepted diverse genders and sexualities as a normal part of their communities, but colonisation led to suppression, criminalisation, and pathologising of those people.

"The Human Rights Act 1993 currently does not specifically acknowledge the intersectional discrimination and violence experienced by trans, intersex and non-binary people. Even the Human Rights Commission recommended adding gender identity and expression to the Act in their PRISM report from last year," she says.

"Therefore, my first Member's Bill adds two new grounds to the list, aptly named: Human Rights (Prohibition of Discrimination on Grounds of Gender Identity and Expression, and Variations of Sex Characteristics) Amendment Bill."

She believes this will help end discrimination while also building an awareness and understanding of diversity that exists in New Zealand.

"There are many extra steps we must take to ensure that our rainbow whānau are truly equal and free from discrimination, and to uphold Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

"This Bill will go some way to ensuring that."