Discrimination is discrimination even if it seems like a good idea

Apartments available for rent in Rotorua, only to women.

Apartments available for rent in Rotorua, only to women.

At first glance these apartments may seem like a good idea but, as a woman, I had to ask myself how would I feel if the shoe was on the other foot? What if I wanted to rent one of these apartments and they only rented to men? What if I was a Muslim and they only rented to Christians? What if the apartment block was owned by two homosexual men and they said that they would only accept tenants who are gay? What if you were Maori and were told that the apartments were for Chinese New Zealanders only? When you look at the bigger picture it is clear that discrimination is discrimination whether it benefits you or not.

A Rotorua apartment block that will be let only to women may be in breach the Human Rights Act.The apartment block of one-bedroom apartments, which is still being completed, is being marketed as a safe, private place for women who want to live alone.Property manager Richard Evans said there had been a lot of interest in the properties and positive feedback. They are listed for $280 a week each.

…But a spokeswoman for the Human Rights Commission said anyone who was providing housing or other accommodation had to comply with the Human Rights Act and could not discriminate on the grounds of sex.

The only exceptions were in shared accommodation or institutions such as hostels or retirement villages.

…Lawyer Thomas Biss said the offer seemed problematic.

“If you are advertising for a flatmate where you are living in the house then you can specify a female flatmate.  But generally a property manager could not simply only deal with females.”

Men can visit the apartments but cannot be named on the tenancy agreement.


I remember a case in Canada where a disabled man in a wheelchair was turned down for a council flat because the people running the flats, paid for by the council, would only accept families that had at least one person from a specific religion in them. When I looked up the story I found a blog that showed examples of discrimination in housing spanning from 2004 to 2016.  Have a read and see whether you think discrimination is a good idea?

The blog gave examples of discriminatory housing in Canada, Australia, America, England, Nigeria, Scotland, Germany and Holland. I hope that we do not allow this kind of discrimination to take hold in New Zealand. Whether or not you think a women-only  apartment block is a good idea, you should oppose it simply because if you don’t, you won’t have a leg to stand on when religious or secular groups  try to discriminate against you.

After watching the complete video below I learned that in Canada segregated, subsidised housing exists for more than one religion as well as specific racial groups. In the case of the disabled man the building was owned by a religious group that received council money in order to provide subsidised housing. According to the manager this was not a unique situation and complied with council rules.

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