Greens renew call for Rainbow Ministry, an idea once dismissed by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern

The Green Party has renewed its call for a Ministry for Rainbow Communities, an idea once dismissed by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. 

"A Rainbow Ministry would grow the capacity of the public sector to support, empower, and resource our communities," Green MP and rainbow spokesperson Dr Elizabeth Kerekere said on Thursday. 

The Greens have launched a petition urging the Government to create a Ministry for Rainbow Communities, where "the diversity of rainbow people is celebrated and our rights upheld".

"It could secure support for initiatives that help educate institutions, including local and central government, about rainbow issues, as well as ensuring schools are inclusive and safe, and workplaces are free from discrimination," Dr Kerekere said. 

The Greens hope that, by launching a petition to create a Rainbow Ministry, it could result in similar success to their campaign to outlaw conversion therapy. Conversation practices were banned this week - a law change helped by a Green Party petition of nearly 160,000 signatures. 

And creating a brand new ministry is not unachievable. From July, a new Ministry for Disabled People will be up and running to serve an estimated 1.1 million people living with a disability in New Zealand. 

But the idea of a Rainbow Ministry has already been shot down by the Prime Minister, when it was floated by Green MP Jan Logie in 2019. 

"Do I think that there's work to be done on behalf of the LGBTIQ community? Yes. Do I think that's best pursued solely by setting up an agency or a ministry or a department? No," Ardern said at the time

"I think actually, the responsibility for some of the issues that we need to pursue exists within the Ministry of Justice, within the Department of Internal Affairs, within education and within health.

"I wouldn't want there to be a sense that the responsibility didn't sit across government simply by having one agency deemed to assume responsibility."

The Greens argued there was no dedicated channel for LGBTQI+ representation to the Government. 

"What's important to me is not the specific mechanism we use to achieve that - it's that we have effective representation and input for LGBTIQ+ people and families in Government decision-making, a point of contact in Government to get help and advice, and the ability to clearly track our progress on these important issues," Logie said at the time. 

Dr Kerekere says creating a Rainbow Ministry is the way forward. 

"It took us until 2022 to ban conversion practices. We should not be willing to wait any longer to give our rainbow communities a real voice in Government."