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Tuesday, November 08, 2005

NZ - Transpeople ‘expendable’ to Labour?

gaynz.com

Labour believes the transgender community is expendable – that’s the reaction of advocacy group Agender NZ to the news that MP Georgina Beyer is withdrawing her private members bill that aimed to make discrimination on the grounds of “gender identity” illegal.

Beyer told GayNZ.com last week that she withdrew her Human Rights (Gender Identity) Amendment Bill because of a desire shown by New Zealanders at the election for more conservative government, and because she feels the bill is not necessary. She believes as it stands, transgendered people are adequately protected against discrimination under existing Human Rights Act provisions.

Agender NZ, an advocacy group which aims to eliminate the social stigma attached to transgendered people, strongly disagrees with Beyer’s reasons for withdrawing the bill. “We regularly see the need for this legislation in our work,” says President Claudia McKay. “Agender believes the proposed legislation sends a message to the community that it is not okay to discriminate against Trans people. To not have it in place sends a clear message to New Zealand that it is still open season on Trans people.”

McKay says the Human Rights Commission’s own research shows it is unclear whether all transpeople would be covered under the existing Human Rights Act. At best, she says, the existing category of ‘sex’ would apply only to post-op transsexuals, who make up a small percentage of the community.

Beyer’s bill would not have created a special category for transpeople, but would simply put them on a level playing field with other New Zealanders, McKay says. She suggests the decision to shelve the bill was more likely politically motivated. “It seems that to Labour, the title of the old John Wayne movie ‘They were expendable’ is an apt description for the transgendered community,” she says.

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