Election 2023: Labour's Rainbow manifesto promises to reform adoption and surrogacy laws, add Rainbow refugees to quota

  • 30/09/2023
Chris Hipkins at Big Gay Out in Auckland.
Chris Hipkins at Big Gay Out in Auckland. Photo credit: Chris Hipkins / Facebook

The Labour Party has released its Rainbow manifesto for the election, promising to tackle discrimination faced by the community.

Releasing the manifesto on Saturday, Labour leader Chris Hipkins warned other parties are using Rainbow communities to "incite fear and division" - whereas his party is committed to progress.

"The Labour Party has a long history of being relentlessly proud and fighting alongside Rainbow whānau for equality and justice, and I will continue that when re-elected," Hipkins said.

"All people, including Rainbow communities, deserve to have their rights and dignity upheld, and to live their lives freely just as they are."

Labour's key promises:

  • Progress legislation to reform adoption and surrogacy laws to ensure Rainbow people are treated the same as heterosexual people
  • Convene experts to look at blood donor criteria
  • Establish a Rainbow sub-category within New Zealand's annual refugee quota

What it means:

Adoption and surrogacy

Hipkins said at the moment Rainbow families are required to adopt their own genetic children after a surrogate birth. If reelected Labour would modernise adoption and surrogacy laws so Rainbow people are treated the same as heterosexual people wanting to form a family.

This would include progressing legislation to reform adoption laws, and passing the Improving Arrangements for Surrogacy Bill.

Health care

Labour would work to improve Rainbow health and ensure the health care system meets the needs of trans, intersex, and gender-diverse people.

Specific promises include:

  • Continuing the rollout of the HIV Action Plan to ensure PrEP access and quicker responses to emerging threats like Mpox
  • Making access to health care services easier for transgender people by funding eight primary health care providers around NZ to provide gender-affirming care
  • Deploying a nationwide informed consent model for gender-affirming health care
  • Reviewing the cost of gender-affirming surgeries and treatment
  • Implementing a child rights-based health care protocol for intersex children
  • Convening a blood donation roundtable

"For blood donations, we will explore the latest evidence regarding Donor Behavioural Criteria alongside advocates, experts, and specialists; particularly the three-month stand-down period that currently applies for men who have sex with men," Hipkins said.

"Any change will need a strong guarantee of safety, but countries like Canada and Ireland have changed their rules, so we should look at their evidence."

Rainbow education

Hipkins said Labour would accelerate the progress made for Rainbow students and work with schools and teachers to promote safe and inclusive environments.

Schools would be encouraged to adopt the Ministry of Education's sexuality education guidelines while teachers would be given professional development on understanding sexual orientation, gender diversity and variations of sex characteristics.

Relationship and sexuality education would be reviewed as part of the 2024 Health Curriculum refresh - and Labour would ensure the curriculum and environments in schools must be safe and inclusive by promoting gender-neutral bathrooms and uniforms, and Rainbow-inclusive curricula.

Community and society

Hipkins said Labour would set up a separate part of our yearly refugee quota for Rainbow individuals.

"We will also establish a Rainbow subcategory within New Zealand's annual refugee quota to support people who are being persecuted because of their sexuality or gender identity to resettle in Aotearoa New Zealand," he said.

"Rainbow refugees can face additional barriers, exclusion, and discrimination compared to other refugees."

Labour would also respond to the Law Commission's Ia Tangata review of protections in the Human Rights Act (1993) for people who are transgender, non-binary, and with innate variations of sex characteristics, and ensure government agencies respond to the Rainbow community's rights and needs.

Hipkins added Labour would provide regular and long-term funding for NGOs as they provide health and wellbeing support, host pride events, and build communities.

It would investigate how best to support Rainbow people in the regions, including how to support the sustainability of Rainbow community events.

'Proud of our progress'

"Labour has relentlessly advocated for Rainbow communities in Government over the last six years," Hipkins said.

"We introduced and passed legislation banning harmful conversion practices, which received near unanimous support. This was a major step towards upholding the rights and dignity of LGBTQIA+ and takatāpui New Zealanders.

"We made it easier for New Zealanders to have birth certificates that reflect how they identify with the changes to the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationship Registration Act. This gives agency to people over their own identity, and makes a real difference for transgender, non-binary, takatāpui and intersex New Zealanders.

"Living fully in your own skin isn't always easy for any of us at the best of times, and it can be particularly hard for our Rainbow communities. I'm proud of our progress we've made to support our Rainbow whānau and the commitments we're making."