Discrimination: Seeking Help, Resolving Disputes and Making Complaints

Employment was the most common area of discrimination identified in the Human Rights Commission’s Inquiry into discrimination experienced by transgender people.

The Department of Labour (now Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment) has developed factsheets for employers and employees:
http://www.dol.govt.nz/er/minimumrights/transgender/Transgenderpeople.pdf.

Both the Human Rights Act and the Employment Relations Act provide processes  for resolving disputes involving discrimination. Either the Employment Relations Service or the Human Rights Commission can be approached for dealing with a problem involving discrimination. The Employment Relations Services includes free access to mediation with the employer.

Complaints of discrimination may be taken to the Human Rights Commission or to the Employment Relations Authority – but not to both.

The Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act, 1987 provides for paid and unpaid parental leave if an employee or their partner is pregnant, or formally adopting a child under six if certain requirements regarding employment are met. One parent is entitled to paid parental leave of 14 continuous weeks. This may start up to six weeks before the expected date of birth or adoption. This can be split between two parents if the criteria tests are met. The rate paid is determined by the Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act, 1987 and is paid by the government, not the employer.

The Property (Relationships) Amendment Act, 2001 gives de facto couples, whether opposite or same sex, the same property rights as existed since 1976 for married couples on the break-up of a relationship.

The Civil Union Act, 2004 that established the institution of civil unions for same-sex and opposite-sex couples was passed in 2004. The Act is very similar to the Marriage Act 1955 with references to “marriage” replaced by “civil union”. A companion bill, the Relationships (Statutory References) Act, passed at the same time, removes discriminatory provisions on the basis of relationship status from a range of statutes and regulations. All couples in New Zealand, whether married, in a civil union, or in a defacto now generally enjoy the same rights under law.

The Marriage Equality Act, 2013 is now law and ensures that all people, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity, have the opportunity to marry if they so choose.

Currently there are no specific barriers preventing an LGBTIQ individual from adopting children, except that a male individual cannot adopt a female child. Now the Marriage Equality Act is passed same-sex couples are able to adopt children jointly. Unmarried couples and couples in civil unions, whether same-sex or opposite-sex, cannot jointly adopt children.

The Sentencing and Parole Act and the Crimes Act, 2002 has a hate crimes clause which includes sexual orientation and gender identity in Section 9(1)(h) of The Sentencing and Parole Act 2002, although it has not yet been invoked in the context  of a hate crime against an LGBTIQ person. New Zealand LGBTIQ communities were concerned about the continued existence of the provocation (Section 169 of the Crimes Act 1961) argument which they held had mitigated the seriousness of homophobic homicides through reducing probable, intentional murder convictions to the lesser charge and penalty of manslaughter.

In August 2009, the Crimes (Provocation Repeal) Amendment Bill was introduced to repeal sections 169 and 170 of the Crimes Act, although its introduction largely stemmed from the trial of the murder of Sophie Elliot by her boyfriend, rather than stemming from the LGBTIQ community. The repeal Bill passed its third reading on 26 November 2009

Download LGBTIQ rights NZ (PDF)