Feedback on the recommendations from New Zealand’s third Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the Human Rights Council in Geneva
The Ministry of Justice opened submissions for feedback on the recommendations from New Zealand’s third Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the Human Rights Council in Geneva. I responded in regards to only 2 of the 194 recommendations. My response was motivated by the need to remove the ambiguity that has surrounded sex as a prohibited grounds for discrimination due to some untested case law which some have used to conflate sex with “gender identity”. See my submission below.
In recommendations 122.51 and 122.52 it is recommended that New Zealand amends our Human Rights Act 1993 to include “gender identity” as a prohibited grounds for discrimination.
It is important that transgender people are not discriminated against in harmful ways such as in regards to employment, housing, and education.
It is important that the confusion in law and society about sex and “gender identity” be resolved. Sex is a biological reality. “Gender identity” is an ideology.
I support the recommendation to add “gender identity” to the Human Rights Act 1993, but only under these specific conditions:
1. “Gender identity” must be added as a prohibited grounds for discrimination completely distinct from sex.
2. “Gender identity” should be treated as a belief system not biological or material reality. Just as we protect ethical beliefs from discrimination so too can we protect the rights of transgender people to believe in their ideology. This belief, however, cannot be imposed on others just as religion cannot.
3. Protections on the grounds of “gender identity” must not impinge on the right of others to recognise fact and reality and state that fact through free speech. Our government and indeed the world operates on foundations of scientific and logical facts and truths which have been proven. The ideology of a small group of people cannot override society’s need to acknowledge material truths.
4. Most importantly, “gender identity” being added to the Human Rights Act 1993 must not erode the rights of women and girls as they exist under the act. No change should be made to the sex exceptions unless to strengthen the rights of women and girls.
5. It must be acknowledged that “gender identity” does not equal sex and that sex exceptions that allow for female only spaces must be judged on the criteria of sex and not “gender identity”.
In summary, I support “gender identity” being included in the Human Rights Act 1993 as an ethical or religious belief. As a belief system “gender identity” is not something everyone subscribes to so it should never be prioritised over the biological reality of “sex”.