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Individual rights & freedoms

Sexual orientation and your rights

Consensual sex and the criminal law

Crimes Act 1961, ss 127–144

Relationships and sexual activity between people of any sexual orientation or gender are legal in New Zealand, and the same age of consent (16) applies to everyone.

This covers people of all genders – for example non-binary people, gender-fluid people, intersex people, transgender people, fa’afafine, whakawahine, tangata ira tāne, and cisgender men and women.

It also covers all sexual orientations – for example bisexual, lesbian, queer, gay, pansexual, takatāpui and heterosexual.

Those are only a handful of the diverse genders and sexualities in Aotearoa.

Wiping old convictions from before homosexual law reform in 1986

Criminal Records (Expungement of Convictions for Historical Homosexual Offences) Act 2018,
ss 2, 15, 16, 23

Some sexual activity between men used to be against the law in New Zealand, along with related things like running a venue used for sex between men. This changed with the Homosexual Law Reform Act 1986, and those things are no longer illegal.

If you were convicted for participating in that kind of sexual activity before the law changed in 1986, there’s now a new law to get rid of those convictions. You can apply to have those convictions ‘expunged’ (this means removed, or wiped). The result is that it’s as if the convictions never happened. However, you can’t get compensation (money) for being convicted under the old law.

If a person who was convicted of one of these offences is now dead, other people can apply for the conviction to be wiped – like their partner or a family member or the executor of their will. If you don’t fit one of those categories, you can ask the Ministry of Justice to let you apply on the dead person’s behalf.

How do I get an old conviction wiped?

You can apply to have historic convictions wiped through the Ministry of Justice, who have a form available online.

Search for “Historical homosexual convictions” on their website www.justice.govt.nz

What’s the benefit of having the old conviction wiped?

Criminal Records (Expungement of Convictions for Historical Homosexual Offences) Act 2018, s 9

Once an old homosexual conviction has been wiped (“expunged”) you don’t have to tell anyone about the conviction – including if you were answering questions under oath in court.

This means that if a potential employer or anyone else asks you whether you have a criminal record, and this was your only conviction, you can truthfully say that you don’t have a criminal record.

It also means that employers or others getting police checks on your record won’t be given any information about the conviction.

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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

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

Also available as a book

The Community Law Manual

The Manual contains over 1000 pages of easy-to-read legal info and comprehensive answers to common legal questions. From ACC to family law, health & disability, jobs, benefits & flats, Tāonga Māori, immigration and refugee law and much more, the Manual covers just about every area of community and personal life. It’s for people living in Aotearoa New Zealand (and their advocates) to help themselves.

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