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Individual rights & freedoms

Laws that affect queer people

Most laws apply to people regardless of their gender or sexual orientation, but there are a few laws that are specific to queer people. These are mainly interested in safeguarding and protecting you from discrimination.

Ban on conversion practices

Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Act 2002

What is a conversion practice?

In New Zealand law, conversion practice is any treatment or practice that intends to “change or suppress” your sexual orientation, gender, or gender expression. It doesn’t have to be over a long period of time, the main thing is that it’s done on purpose. Some examples include:

  • praying for changes to your sexual orientation, gender, or gender expression
  • disciplining you for your sexual orientation, gender, or gender expression
  • shaming you for your sexual orientation, gender, or gender expression.

The law also sets out what doesn’t count as conversion practice. Some examples of what conversion practice doesn’t include:

  • your health practitioner offering professional judgement and advice around your gender or sexuality
  • a person expressing their personal religious beliefs, without targeting you specifically

The law doesn’t currently cover surgeries on intersex babies, or healthcare settings in general. However, if a medical provider tries to make you not be trans, or refuses to give you all the information you ask for and doesn’t refer you to someone who will, then they may be in breach of the Health and Disability Commission’s rules. You can complain to the Health and Disability Commissioner if this happens (see: “Health and disability services: Your rights and how to enforce them” for more information).

What can I do if I’ve experienced conversion practice?

If you’ve experienced conversion practice, you can complain to the Human Rights Commission, or go to the police.

The Human Rights Commission can provide free and confidential mediation between you and the other person. The goal of this is to remedy the harm and stop it from happening again.

If mediation doesn’t work, you can go to the Human Rights Review Tribunal. For this, you can apply for free legal representation from the Director of the Office of Human Rights Proceedings. The Tribunal has the same rights as a court. They can order the other person to pay you compensation or issue a formal apology.

The other person won’t go to jail or get a criminal conviction if you go through the Human Rights Commission.

  • If you go to the police and the other party is found guilty, they will get a criminal conviction. To be found guilty, the court will need to find that conversion practice happened, and:
  • the person caused you serious harm. This harm could be physical, emotional, or psychological, or
  • you were under 18 years old, or didn’t have the capacity to understand how the conversion practice would impact you when it took place.

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Gender and sexuality

Where to go for more support

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


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


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

Law Society

To find a lawyer


(04) 472 7837

Gender Minorities Aotearoa


Phone: (04) 385 0611

Mobile: 02040492568

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




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


(09) 376 4155

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



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


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


0800 25 78 87

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

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


Human Rights Commission


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


“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


NZ Transport Agency


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


Gender affirming surgery


Health and Disability Advocacy Service


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


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:


Also available as a book

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