TV & Radio
Dropping of Human Rights (Gender Identity) Bill
Monday, 31 October 2005, 12:36 pm
Press Release: Agender New Zealand
AGENDER NEW ZEALAND
N.Z. SUPPORT GROUP FOR ALL TRANSGENDERED PEOPLE
AFFILIATES:- FtM AOTEAROA, AGENDER AUSTRALIA
30 October 2005
Dropping of the Human Rights (Gender Identity) Amendment Bill
Agender NZ announced today that they were bitterly disappointed with the Governments decision not to proceed with the ‘Gender Identity’ Bill.
“This Bill was not about party politics, it was about righting an injustice in current legislation” Agender NZ President Claudia McKay said.
“The Bill came from the grass roots of the transgender community. It was and is needed. Righting a wrong is not, as Wayne Mapp says ‘Political Correctness’, it is not a special law for trans people, it is the same law you have to protect people from discrimination due to race or religion. Contrary to Mr Mapps opinion, it was my understanding that New Zealand law upheld the rights of all, not just the mainstream” she said.
Agender plans to continue to fight for this legislation in conjunction with other transgendered organisations.
PM gives Beyer's bill the chop
30 October 2005
By HELEN BAIN - Sunday Star Times
Prime Minister Helen Clark has told transsexual MP Georgina Beyer that her bill to protect transgender people from discrimination is "history", and Beyer blames a "climate of intolerance" for its demise.
Beyer's bill, the Human Rights (Gender Identity) Amendment Bill, was drawn late last year in the ballot that decides which private members' bills will be considered.
But its journey through the parliamentary process was delayed until after the election because the government got campaign jitters about its subject.
Now, Beyer says, Clark and Deputy Prime Minister Michael Cullen have said her bill won't be revived.
The bill, like all legislation left on the table when the last parliament was dissolved, has lapsed, and would need to be included in a carry-over motion to be debated in the new parliament.
Beyer said her bill was the victim of a growing climate of intolerance in parliament and society.
"I feel quite disappointed that I have had to capitulate. The political landscape has changed... They want to appease the more conservative elements that have come to the fore in recent years. It is quite alarming when you see this growing tide."
Progressive legislation in previous terms, such as the Civil Union Act and legalisation of prostitution, had fanned discontent among conservative voters, and the current social climate would not accept her bill, Beyer said.
"I want to see this issue dealt with sensibly, without the accumulated backlash - it is not a safe environment for the transgender community if we have this debate now."
Beyer said the appointment of National MP Wayne Mapp as spokesman for eradication of political correctness showed that it would now be "open slather" in attacking minority rights.
National would have "jumped on (the bill) with very emotive and divisive tactics," Beyer said. Even if Labour had supported the bill, it is unlikely that the parties supporting the government, NZ First and United Future, would back it.
NZ First leader Winston Peters said before the election that the bill would result in cross-dressing teachers in New Zealand classrooms.
"We realise that as a party we are going to have to knuckle down and maintain stability, rather than get caught in their venom," Beyer said.
Beyer said the bill would have protected a minority which was vulnerable to discrimination and had no protection in the law.
"Who would have thought that to protect such a basic human right would be such a contentious issue?"
Beyer was determined to continue to fight for rights of transgender people. "It will probably appear that I have lost this battle but the war is not over yet."
She hoped the issue would be addressed through a Human Rights Commission proposal currently before the government.
Beyer has spoken to transgender Auckland fashion designer and performer Linda Le Pou, also known as Lindah E, who was prevented from presenting an award at the Pasifika Music Awards, and was encouraged that Le Pou might take a "test case" in the fight against discrimination.
Le Pou is in mediation with the Human Rights Commission over the matter.
Mapp said the gender identity bill was a classic case of political correctness and he was pleased it would not proceed.
"It is taking things to a ridiculous extent. I'm not suggesting open slather on discrimination, but why do we need a special law for transgender people?
"It's a choice issue - that's a choice she made."
New Zealand did not need law for "that sort of thing" because laws should uphold the rights of mainstream society, not be "captured by a minority".
Nats' 'PC eradication' triggers debate
27 October 2005 - NZPA
The National Party's appointment of a "political correctness eradicator" has triggered a debate about minority rights in New Zealand.
MP Wayne Mapp has been given the job of fighting for the silent majority against what National sees as the insidious "PC" agendas of some government organisations.
The position has been created by party leader Don Brash, who announced his shadow cabinet yesterday.
Dr Mapp said today the Human Rights Commission was at the top of his agenda.
"Here's an organisation that has a set of values pretty much divorced from the main stream," he said.
"It sets out a way of thinking we're all expected to follow and then it backs it up with a whole series of coercive powers."
National has frequently complained in Parliament about the attention the Government pays to minorities and Maori rights, saying everyone should be treated equally.
Dr Mapp said the fundamental problem was giving power to minorities through state institutions.
"You can't have organisations that have both prosecution powers and advocacy roles...it's this prescribed way of thinking that's really got peoples' goat," he said on National Radio.
Dr Mapp said the Waitangi Tribunal was another organisation that needed fixing.
"It's a mixture of re-making our history and also making determinations on settlement claims...it should stick to claims," he said.
Author Alan Duff said he was sick of hearing about minority rights.
"Is someone going to stand up and say 'who bloody well cares about the rights of minorities'," he said.
"How about the rights of the majority, the rights of children. Who cares about gays?"
Canterbury University associate professor of philosophy Dennis Dutton said political correctness closed down debate.
"I think today in New Zealand it's really a matter of making people, young and old, feel uncomfortable about questioning the claims of anybody who claims they are a victim class," he said.
"Somebody has got their hand out, they want something from the taxpayer, and we're to be made to feel uncomfortable about even questioning this."
Labour's transsexual MP Georgina Beyer, who has described herself in the past as someone who represents "just about everything that's PC", disagreed with them.
"Fear is what will come back into people," she said.
"Are we going to go back to the horrid days of the past...we do have a right to try to attain equality. For the most part, we have succeeded in New Zealand."