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Gender identity, discrimination and labor law

Gender identity, discrimination and labor law

David Burton is an employment lawyer and a regular contributor to opinion pieces.

OPINION: Kellie-Jay Keen (aka Posie Parker) was pelted with tomato juice in Auckland and left the country.

Just weeks later, she appeared in Belfast, Northern Ireland at a Let Women Speak rally. Keen is known for her opposition to transgender rights.

Hundreds of people reportedly gathered in the Donegall Quay area of ​​Belfast and again police officers had to be called in to segregate crowds of protesters at the Kellie-Jay Keen rally.

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The original venue was changed after organizers said they were threatened. Police said attendees should have “a clear understanding of their legal obligations”.

“As a police force, we have a responsibility to uphold and balance the human rights of all our citizens,” the police spokesman added.

Transgender and gender diversity are umbrella terms that cover a wide range of gender identities. Not all trans people want to conform to binary gender norms.

Gender diverse people may identify as binary (male or female) or non-binary (a grouping that includes a range of different experiences and identities that fall outside or do not strictly align with either end of a binary identity of male or female). Each person’s gender expression (how they present themselves to the world) is unique.

Some gender diverse people experience stress due to the discrepancy between their gender identity and the sex they were assigned at birth. Some individuals switch between binary identities or have transitional goals that may involve different aspects of social, medical, or surgical care.

David Burton is an employment lawyer.


David Burton is an employment lawyer.

There is no explicit protection against discrimination for people with variations in sex characteristics in New Zealand law.

Section 21 of the Human Rights Act recognizes 13 prohibited grounds of discrimination, including gender and sexual orientation. Sexual orientation is defined in law as “heterosexual, homosexual, lesbian or bisexual orientation”. The definition of sex simply states that the term “includes pregnancy and childbirth”.

While yet to be determined by the courts, the Human Rights Commission interprets “sex” under the law to include gender identity, gender expression and “sexual characteristics”, and will accept complaints of discrimination on this basis.

There have been calls for section 21(1)(a) of the Human Rights Act to be amended to specifically include gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics as grounds for preventing discrimination based on sex.

In the workplace, the Employment Relations Act prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender, but is based on the definition in the Human Rights Act.

The government’s employment information website even notes that “transgender people ‘may be’ protected under the Human Rights Act 1993 against unlawful discrimination based on gender identity in the workplace, but this has not been tested in New Zealand courts”.

New Zealand has come a long way. Activist Shaneel Lal is the first transgender person to win a New Zealander of the Year award this year for his work in the rainbow community.

Shaneel Lal was named Young New Zealander of the Year for their work in the rainbow community.

Carlo Gomez/Brown Bread

Shaneel Lal was named Young New Zealander of the Year for their work in the rainbow community.

The 22-year-old played a key role in the fight to ban conversion therapy and was active in the recent protest against Posie Parker.

After learning of New Zealand’s progress, the Cook Islands are part of the New Zealand Empire and the head of state is the King of New Zealand. That means Cook Islanders, while running its own affairs, are citizens of New Zealand.

The Cook Islands have finally removed a law from their Crimes Act that could imprison men for having sex with men. The law determined that “indecent acts between men” was a criminal offense and punishable by up to five years in prison.

Cook Island Prime Minister Mark Brown said in a tweet that it was a “historic day” for his Cook Islands Party “to end discrimination against the LGBT community”. Another perspective might be that the Cook Islands have a long way to go, a journey that New Zealand is still on?

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