Women's Liberation Aotearoa denies involvement in graffiti attack on Labour MP Ingrid Leary's office

Labour MP Ingrid Leary's office has been vandalised with graffiti in what appears to be backlash to a law change that would allow sex self-identification on birth certificates. 

Leary, MP for Taieri in Otago, posted images on her Facebook page showing how photos of her Labour Party branding in the windows of her office had been defaced with spray paint. 

"We throw NZ females under the bus," the vandals wrote, with text also saying, "Women = Female", as well as other inappropriate messages. 

"Unfortunately for us all as taxpayers, we will be paying to clean this graffiti off my office walls. The fact that a particular lobby group appears to have resorted to criminal activity like defacing property is a sad reflection of their values," Leary wrote on Facebook. 

"If this is the abuse they level at politicians, we can only imagine what the trans community has to endure at their hands. 

"These anonymous actions show cowardice which is interesting as I've always felt that underlying the political stance of groups such as Women's Liberation Aotearoa is a deep seated fear of losing something - whereas what they don't realise is that in inclusive societies, nobody loses and everybody wins.  

"The graffiti attack only confirms my resolve to continue to advocate strongly for the rights of all women including trans women."

It's unclear who is behind the attack. Leary said police were investigating, and a police spokesperson confirmed to Newshub that a phone call regarding the vandalism had been received. 

In a now-deleted tweet, the group Women's Liberation Aotearoa posted an image of the graffiti on Leary's office and included the hashtag #WomenFightBack. Leary posted a screenshot of the deleted tweet in the comment section of her Facebook post. 

Women's Liberation Aotearoa denies involvement in graffiti attack on Labour MP Ingrid Leary's office
Photo credit: Supplied

Jenny Whyte from Women's Liberation Aotearoa admits the tweet wasn't a good look. 

"That's a bit of a comms cock up," she told Newshub, adding that she'd been at work all day and hadn't seen it. "I'm glad they took it down. That was an unwise tweet but we certainly didn't do the graffiti and I'll be having a chat with our Twitter team.

"We don't disagree with the sentiment expressed but we didn't do it and it's that simple. I think it's unfair of her to blame us."

Whyte said she's asked Leary's office to take the post down. 

"I read the post and she's entitled to say whatever she thinks, I suppose, but it's pretty disappointing to see her link our group in that way. We had nothing to do with it whatsoever. Nobody in our group has had anything to do with it. We've got no responsibility for it."

In a statement following Newshub's conversation with Whyte, she wrote: "Women's Liberation Aotearoa categorically denies any responsibility for the act.

"It's no doubt shocking to Ms Leary waking up to find her office covered in graffiti, but really, it's pretty minor compared to the vandalism of women's rights occurring under this Parliament."

Parliament's Governance and Administration Committee has been hearing submissions from the public on the Government's proposed Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration Bill (BDMRR Bill).

Under the proposed law, people would be allowed to change the sex on their birth certificate based on how they identify themselves, removing the need for medical evidence of a sex change. 

At present, anyone wanting to change the sex on their birth certificate needs "medical evidence" and to apply through the Family Court. Changing that to a simple statutory declaration - the current process for changing it on a driver's licence or passport - is on the cards. 

The proposed law has faced backlash from the likes of Speak Up For Women, a group formed in 2018 in opposition to the sex self-ID proposals, who fear it would erode the rights of women to access single-sex services.

In the comment section of Leary's post, Speak Up For Women co-founder and spokesperson Beth Johnson said: "Grassroots resistance to gender ideology is a global movement.

"Speak Up For Women did not do this graffiti and do not condone vandalism. We have never undertaken illegal activity, ever. We get accused of things we haven't done regularly."

The Governance and Administration Committee in its report acknowledged sex self-identification is a sensitive issue

"We think it is important to acknowledge that implementing a new self-identification process for amending the registered sex on a person's birth record can be a sensitive and polarising issue."

The only recommendations made by the committee were to allow overseas-born Kiwis to change the sex on their birth certificates, and to ensure schools provide a safe and supportive environment for takatāpui, transgender, intersex, and non-binary students.