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March 4, 2019 | by  | in News | [ssba]

Trans Rights Delayed by Bill Deferral

In a controversial decision, Minister of Internal Affairs Tracey Martin has deferred a bill to modernise the Births, Deaths and Marriages Act.


The bill includes a simplification of the process to change the recorded gender marker on birth certificates.

The bill had been hotly debated in recent months due to these provisions, which are intended for the transgender community.

The current process to change official gender markers requires an applicant to apply to the Family Court with proof of medical treatment. This can reportedly take more than a year to complete.

The simplified process, introduced by the cross-party select committee, would have removed the requirement for medical treatment and only require a declaration signed before a Justice of the Peace.

This procedure is already used to change gender markers on New Zealand passports and driver’s licenses.

The Minister said that while she supported the rights of transgender people to select their own gender, there was “inadequate public consultation” given the significance of the changes.

The deferral was praised by groups such as Family First NZ, who warned against “unscientific gender ideology” in a statement on the bill.

The move attracted significant criticism from the trans community, politicians, and legal figures.

Gender Minorities Aotearoa, who have been a leading group calling for reform of the process, called this decision “utterly devastating” for the transgender community.

A Victoria University public law expert told Salient that “in these particular circumstances the delay doesn’t appear to me to be justified.”

“[It] instead seems to be driven by pressure from those who oppose increased recognition of transgender rights.”

The Green Party has pledged to work with the Minister to progress the legislation before the end of the parliamentary term late next year.


A date to revisit the bill has not been announced.


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