Dear Tracey Martin

NZF MP Tracey Martin

The New Zealand group Speakup for Women has published a second open letter to NZ First MP Tracey Martin. quote.

Dear Minister

We are writing to you for a second time, to raise with you further information relating to the “self‐ID provisions” contained in Section 22 of the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration Bill, currently set down for its second reading in Parliament.

New information about the background to self‐ID

As Speak Up For Women set out in our letter of 3 September 2018, the genesis of the “self‐ID” proposals is Allyson Hamblett’s Petition (2014/0086) signed by only 53 people. Notwithstanding the Government’s recent claim that the public had “the opportunity to submit on”1 this Petition, in fact the Select Committee considering the Petition in 2017 received submissions only from Ms Hamblett, the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) and the Human Rights Commission. We noted that the DIA appeared to have raised concerns about the “wide ranging implications” of self‐ID at this time2.

We have since obtained the original DIA advice on the Petition (advice dated 5 April and 19 May 2017)3. It confirms the DIA had concerns about self‐ID.

Three significant points emerge:

  1. The DIA did not recommend self‐ID
  2. The DIA did not recommend any amendment to the birth certificate sex provisions of the BDMMR Act, and considered that existing provisions met international law standards
  3. The DIA noted that in 2006‐8, the Human Rights Commission conducted an in‐depth inquiry into discrimination faced by transgender people. The Commission recommended some changes to the birth certificate process, but did not endorse self‐ID. In fact, the Commission favoured retention of the Family Court declaration process and medical gatekeeping.

Central to the DIA’s concerns was the identified need to balance the personal interests of transgender people, against the need for certainty and integrity in official documentation. The DIA noted that medical gatekeeping under the existing law had been interpreted broadly in case law, such that gender reassignment surgery is no longer required. This, the DIA said, provides sufficient flexibility to address Ms Hamblett’s concerns.

The DIA said that self‐ID for birth certificates:

“would have potentially wide‐ranging implications for New Zealand government and society, including at an international level, because it involves core identity information….the Department is not in a position to confirm the government’s support for [self‐ID] or otherwise.”
Notwithstanding these clearly expressed concerns, the Committee instructed officials to review the Act “with a view to amending it to an approach predicated on self‐identification.”

[…] The needs of transgender people need to be balanced against the integrity of official documents
The value of setting a “threshold” before sex can be changed on official documents was recognised. This must be “robust” and ensure “a high standard of integrity in official birth records[…]

The Commission essentially repeated this position in its 2010 report “Human Rights in New Zealand.

[…] It is unclear why the Human Rights Commission has reversed its position and now favours self‐ID.

[…] We suggest the Commission’s current position is poorly‐reasoned, and based on a flawed
understanding of its own comprehensive 2008 Inquiry.

Conclusion

Both the Department of Internal Affairs in 2017, and the Human Rights Commission in 2008, rejected self‐ID for birth certificates. Both agencies recognised the need to strike a balance between the personal needs of transgender people, and other rights and interests (including those protected by the exemptions under the Human Rights Act). […]

We call on you to work with your Parliamentary colleagues on both sides of the House to identify a way to amend the BDMRR Bill perhaps by a supplementary order paper, to protect sex‐based exemptions under the Human Rights Act.

Speak Up for Women have raised some excellent points. You can visit their website to read the full letter and also to access all the source material. It seems that the inclusion of the self-ID provisions may have been predetermined by transgender activists in the Labour-led coalition government who have an ideological barrow to push no matter what the cost.


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