Rainbow groups taking Immigration Minister Michael Wood to court over Posie Parker case

Michael Wood and Posie Parker.
Michael Wood and Posie Parker. Photo credit: Newshub.

A number of Rainbow groups are taking Immigration Minister Michael Wood to court over the decision to not block anti-transgender activist Posie Parker's travel into New Zealand.

Immigration NZ on Wednesday said the threshold had not been met to allow Parker to be excluded under the Immigration Act. 

General manager Richard Owen said her travel to New Zealand for speaking events was reviewed this week after issues at events she held in Australia in the weekend. Neo-Nazis attended an event in Melbourne.

In a statement on Thursday evening, human rights organisations Gender Minorities Aotearoa, InsideOUT Kōaro, and Auckland Pride said they had filed for judicial review in the High Court. 

"The facts in this case are clear, and the Minister's failure to act is putting our communities in danger," says Ahi Wi-Hongi, Executive Director of Gender Minorities Aotearoa and spokesperson for the groups. 

"We are not opposing freedom of speech, we are opposing the measurable threat to public order and the safety of transgender people."

In addition to the judicial review, the groups are seeking an interim order to prevent her from entering the country until the judicial review can take place.

Wood had no comment on Thursday.

Parker, whose real name is Kelly-Jay Keen-Minshull, is a contentious British figure, who started the "Standing for Women" group that campaigns against transgender rights.

"After reviewing all publicly known information about Ms Keen-Minshull and seeking advice from other agencies we have concluded that there is no reason to believe that she is, or is likely to be, a threat or risk to the public order or public interest," Owen said on Wednesday.

"As a result we have determined that Ms Keen-Minshull does not meet the high threshold to be considered an excluded person under Section 16 of the Immigration Act 2009."

The Act says no visa or entry permission may be granted if the minister believes someone is likely to be a threat or risk to security, public order or public interest, or is a designated terrorist.

Owen said on Wednesday there is nothing in the Immigration Act or immigration instructions which "could be used to prevent a person travelling to New Zealand on a temporary basis based on their previous expression of opinion and ideas".

"We appreciate that some people will not agree with this assessment, but it is critical that INZ applies the law in all such cases, regardless of the views the individual holds.

"The assessment means that Ms Keen-Minshull can use her visa waiver status as a British citizen and travel to New Zealand on the basis of holding a New Zealand electronic Travel Authority (NZeTA)."

Wood on Wednesday said he would prefer she "never set foot in New Zealand".

"I find many of her views repugnant, and am concerned by the way in which she courts some of the most vile people and groups around including white supremacists," Wood said.

"The decision on whether to suspend her NZeTA sits with Immigration New Zealand and they have assessed that she meets the criteria set out in the Immigration Act and regulations. This assessment took into account the events in Melbourne that occurred last weekend. I have been advised that this case does not meet the threshold for Ministerial intervention."

Wood said the welfare and safety of the transgender community will be front of mind this weekend.

"Event organisers maintain the primary responsibility to ensure they run a safe and secure event and police have advised they will also be in attendance to ensure public safety.

"I condemn her inflammatory, vile and incorrect worldviews, and will always stand alongside those New Zealanders who use their own right to free speech against those who wish to take society backwards."

Managing Director of InsideOUT Kōaro, Tabby Besley, said: "There is no place for transphobia in Aotearoa, and there is no public interest in the abhorrent views espoused by Keen-Minshull." 

Executive Director of Auckland Pride, Max Tweedie, said: "We are determined to challenge this decision in order to protect the well-being and safety of our trans, non-binary and takatāpui communities in Aotearoa."

OutLine Aotearoa and RainbowYOUTH said they are also in support of the action to prevent Keen-Minshull from entering the country. 

"As an organisation supporting the mental health of Rainbow communities across Aotearoa, we are concerned for the immediate safety of trans people, as well as the longer term impacts of the stress, fear and anxiety her visit will cause for many of our trans and non-binary whānau," said OutLine Aotearoa Chief Executive Claire Black. 

RainbowYOUTH's Executive Director Pooja Subramanian said: "Now is the time to lead by example that trans and gender diverse young people deserve protection from systems that are meant to support them, and we are calling on the Minister to enact that." 

Gender Minorities Aotearoa, InsideOUT Kōaro, and Auckland Pride said they will update their websites and social media as the case progresses. 

They're encouraging people affected to "take care of each other, to take time to focus on wellbeing, and to reach out for support".

"We are aware of protests being organised in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch and encourage allies to go along and support trans communities at these. We are also asking allies to support this cause through donations towards legal costs such as filing fees," Wi-Hongi said.

"While we expect our costs will be minimal, there is always a risk of escalation in taking a legal case, and every penny helps."

A Givealittle page has been launched to fundraise for the legal case.

"Any surplus funds will be used by our organisations to continue advocating for the rights and wellbeing of our transgender and rainbow communities," it said.

Police officers were allegedly assaulted in Melbourne on Saturday after pro-transgender and anti-transgender activists clashed at Victoria's Parliament where Keen-Minshull held an event. According to local media, at least three people were arrested for assaults during the clash.

Among those demonstrating was a group of neo-Nazis with a "destroy paedo freaks" sign.

Members of the Rainbow Greens called for her to be blocked entry to New Zealand, where she is speaking in Auckland and Wellington this weekend. Counter-protests are planned for during her speaking events.

They said there is reason to believe her arrival in Aotearoa New Zealand poses a significant risk and threat to public order and the public interest - particularly with respect to preventing violence towards members of the country's takatāpui, transgender and gender diverse communities.

After it emerged that INZ was reviewing her case and Prime Minister Chris Hipkins commented on this, Keen-Minshull said: "Revoke my visa at your peril". 

"I tell you what Chris, I tell you what Mr Prime Minister Chris Hipkins, revoke my visa at your peril, let's see what happens," she said. 

"When you stop a woman who is a women's rights campaigner, when you stop her from being able to come and facilitate the speech of women in your country... why don't you throw down that particular gauntlet?"

Hipkins said it was not something he would get involved in.