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Individual rights & freedoms

Discrimination based on sex, gender or sexual orientation

Access to shops, businesses and public places

Shops, businesses and other public places can’t discriminate against you

Human Rights Act 1993, ss 42, 44

It’s illegal for a business to refuse to deal with you or to treat you less favourably than other people because of your sex, gender or sexual orientation. This includes not just shops and restaurants and so on, but also banks, loan companies, and finance or insurance companies.

It’s also illegal for any business to refuse to let you enter their premises if it’s a place that’s otherwise open to the public – like a cinema or bus.

Even if there are separate toilet or changing facilities for men and women (this is legally allowed), you’re allowed to use the one that best matches your sex or gender identity.

In some countries, wedding businesses run by people with particular religious beliefs have been allowed to refuse to provide services for gay couples, and bakers have been allowed to refuse to put pride messages on cakes. This is not allowed in New Zealand: no-one has the right to refuse to serve any customer on the basis of sex, gender or sexual orientation.

See the chapter “Discrimination”.

Exceptions: When shops, businesses and public places can legally discriminate against you

Human Rights Act 1993, ss 42, 45–52

There are some exceptions where discrimination is legally allowed – here are some of the more common ones:

  • Private clubs are allowed to choose new members on any basis. For their existing members, the usual rules about discrimination apply.
  • People who provide highly personal courses or counselling can exclude people based on their sex, gender or sexual orientation.
  • Insurance companies are allowed to offer different terms to people of different sexes as long as they have good statistical reasons.
  • Superannuation schemes can discriminate by sex if it’s “reasonable” and based on evidence.
  • Sports are allowed to restrict by sex or gender, but only if the strength, stamina or physique of competitors is relevant:
    • but that sex exception for sport doesn’t apply to children under 12, so there’s no right to refuse a child under 12 from participating in a sport because of their sex or gender
    • sports are also not allowed to discriminate when it comes to umpires, coaches, or administrators.
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Legal information

“Lag Law: Your Rights Inside Prison and on Remand” booklet

This booklet contains practical answers to common questions relating to prisoner rights, including transgender rights in prison. A useful guide for people going to prison, in prison, or getting out of prison and their whānau.

Community Law Wellington and Hutt Valley

Phone: (04) 499 2928

Email: publications@wclc.org.nz

Visit www.communitylaw.org.nz to buy a copy or access free

Rainbow Rights

www.rainbowrights.nz

Rainbow Rights is a website developed by Rainbow Youth and YouthLaw (a Community Law Centre) to provide legal information about rights for LQBTIQ young people.

Legislation NZ

www.legislation.govt.nz

This has all of New Zealand’s current Acts and regulations.

Law Society

To find a lawyer

www.lawsociety.org.nz

(04) 472 7837

Gender Minorities Aotearoa

www.genderminorities.com

Phone: (04) 385 0611

Mobile: 02040492568

GMA maintains a national database of transgender, takatāpui, and intersex information, resources, and links.

InsideOUT

www.insideout.org.nz

0273314507

InsideOUT is a national organisation that provides workshops, resources and support to help make schools, community organisations and workplaces inclusive for rainbow people.

Rainbow Youth

www.ry.org.nz

(09) 376 4155

RainbowYOUTH provides a number of services for queer and gender-diverse youth and their wider communities all across Aotearoa.

Genderbridge

www.facebook.com/groups/genderbridge/

Genderbridge is a peer-to-peer transgender community organisation providing support to transgender and gender-diverse people, their whānau and friends throughout Aotearoa New Zealand.

Naming NZ

www.naming.nz

Naming NZ is an organisation to help transgender, gender-diverse and intersex youth with updating their identity documents to correctly reflect their sex and gender. Naming NZ can only provide financial assistance to youth in the Wellington region.

Government departments, agencies and courts

Department of Internal Affairs

www.dia.govt.nz

0800 25 78 87

The Department of Internal Affairs processes applications to legally change your name.

Family Court

www.justice.govt.nz/courts/family-court

0800 268 787 or (04) 918 8800

The Family Court make decisions about applications to change your sex on your birth certificate.

Oranga Tamariki / Ministry for Children

International Surrogacy – Fact sheet

www.orangatamariki.govt.nz/assets/Uploads/Adoptions/Surrogacy-and-adoption/2020-Information-Fact-Sheet-International-Surrogacy.pdf

Human Rights Commission

www.hrc.co.nz

You can contact the Human Rights Commission if you want to know more about discrimination and human rights, or if you want to complain about discrimination:

0800 496 877 or text 0210 236 4253

infoline@hrc.co.nz

“To Be Who I Am”, 2007 Report of the Inquiry into Discrimination Experienced by Transgender People is available on the HRC website

Human Rights Commission Intersex Roundtable

www.hrc.co.nz

NZ Transport Agency

www.nzta.govt.nz

0800 822 422

The NZTA deals with changes to drivers’ licences, including changing your name or gender on your driver’s licence.

Ministry of Health

Guidance for health professionals

www.health.govt.nz/our-work/preventative-health-wellness/delivering-health-services-transgender-people

Gender affirming surgery

www.health.govt.nz/your-health/healthy-living/transgender-new-zealanders/health-care-transgender-new-zealanders

Health and Disability Advocacy Service

www.advocacy.org.nz

The Health and Disability Advocacy Service can provide a free advocate to help you make a complaint about a health or disability service.

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment

Guide about Transgender Employees

www.employment.govt.nz/starting-employment/hiring/discrimination-when-hiring/transgender-employees/

Department of Corrections

Placement of transgender prisoners

You can read their policy (Movements M.03.05) relating to placement of transgender prisoners on their website, at:

www.corrections.govt.nz/resources/policy_and_legislation/Prison-Operations-Manual.html

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