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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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Sex, gender and sexual orientation

Where to go for more support

Legal information and support groups

Community Law

Your local Community Law Centre can provide you with free initial legal advice.

Find your local Community Law Centre online: www.communitylaw.org.nz/our-law-centres

Access the free “Lag Law: Your Rights Inside Prison and on Release” book.  This book 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.

Online: www.communitylaw.org.nz/community-law-manual/prisoners-rights-chapter-1-before-prison-the-criminal-court-process/before-prison-the-criminal-court-process
Email for a hard copy: laglaw@wclc.org.nz
Phone: Community Law Wellington and Hutt Valley – 04 499 2928


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

Website:  www.insideout.org.nz
Email:  hello@insideout.org.nz
Phone:  027 331 4507
Instagram:  www.instagram.com/insideoutkoaro
Facebook:  www.facebook.com/insideoutkoaro

Gender Minorities Aotearoa

Gender Minorities Aotearoa is a nationwide organisation providing support and information to transgender people.

Website: www.genderminorities.com
Email: support@genderminorities.com
Phone: 04 385 0611

Naming New Zealand

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.

Website: www.ry.org.nz/namingnz

Intersex Aotearoa

Intersex Aotearoa are an intersex-led education, lobbying, advocacy and peer support organisation in Aotearoa, welcoming all people with intersex variations in Aotearoa, whānau and friends.

Website: www.intersexaotearoa.org
Email: info@intersexaotearoa.org
Instagram: www.instagram.com/intersexyaotearoa
Facebook: www.facebook.com/intersexaotearoa


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.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/groups/genderbridge


OutLine is a confidential, free, all-ages support line that provides rainbow specialist counselling and trans and non-binary peer support. Call for free from 6pm-9pm.

Website: www.outline.org.nz
Phone: 0800 688 5463
Instagram: www.instagram.com/OUTlineAotearoa
Facebook: www.facebook.com/outlineaotearoa

Rainbow Rights in Aotearoa

RainbowYOUTH and YouthLaw have collaborated to provide information about the various legal rights afforded to people living in Aotearoa, and how they relate to queer, intersex and gender diverse people.

Website: www.rainbowrights.nz

Rainbow Youth

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

Website: www.ry.org.nz
Instagram: www.instagram.com/rainbowyouth
Facebook: www.facebook.com/rainbowyouth

Q Youth

Q Youth is a charity run by youth for youth in Nelson. Q Youth provides support, training and education to rainbow youth, friends, family and whānau.

Website: www.qyouthnz.com
Email: office.q.youth@gmail.com

Government departments, agencies and courts

Department of Internal Affairs

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

Website: www.govt.nz/browse/passports-citizenship-and-identity/changing-your-name/change-your-own-name
Phone: 0800 22 52 52

NZ Transport Agency

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

Website: www.nzta.govt.nz/driver-licences/renewing-replacing-and-updating/updating-your-licence
Phone: 0800 822 422

Te Whatu Ora/Health New Zealand

Te Whatu Ora has guidance for health professionals dealing with transgender people and information on gender affirming surgeries.

Website: www.tewhatuora.govt.nz/our-health-system/preventative-healthwellness/providing-health-services-for-transgender-people

Te Kāhui Tika Tangata/Human Rights Commission

See the Human Rights Commission website for information about human rights and discrimination in Aotearoa. It outlines how you can make a complaint to the Commission.

Website: www.tikatangata.org.nz or www.hrc.co.nz
Email: infoline@hrc.co.nz
Phone: 0800 496 877 (0800 4 YOUR RIGHTS)

To make a complaint online, download a complaint form or find out more about the complaints process: www.tikatangata.org.nz/resources-and-support/make-a-complaint 

Other resource of interest: “To be who I am: Report on the Inquiry into Discrimination Experienced by Transgender People”: www.tikatangata.org.nz/our-work/to-be-who-i-am-report-on-the-inquiry-into-discrimination-experienced-by-transgender-people

Nationwide Health & Disability Advocacy Service

The Nationwide Health & Disability Advocacy Service offers free, independent, and confidential advice to support you making a complaint about health and disability services.

Website: www.advocacy.org.nz
Email: advocacy@advocacy.org.nz
Phone: 0800 555 050

Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE)

MBIE has some guidance for employers with transgender employees.

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

Department of Corrections

The Prisons Operations Manual Policy outlines the procedure for determining where to place transgender and intersex prisoners in prison (see Movements M.03.05).

Website: www.corrections.govt.nz/resources/policy_and_legislation/Prison-Operations-Manual/Movement/M.03-Specified-gender-and-age-movements/M.03.05-Transgender-prisoner

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