An interesting addition to the Human Rights Commission webpage for FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) has recently been noted. This week, the group Speak Up for Women NZ shared that the following disclaimer had been added sometime since early July 2023 –
“This page addresses some frequently asked questions about discrimination and human rights. This guidance is intended to provide general information. It is not legal advice and should not be relied on as such. Human rights are a complex and evolving area of law, and some of the questions may be considered by the Human Rights Review Tribunal and courts in the future. Please contact us if you have questions or want more information.”
The FAQs webpage covers a broad range of issues which people and organisations may use to seek advice on. The HRC now says in their disclaimer that their advice is “not legal advice”, which infers that other advice or positions may also be valid.
Under the heading ‘Sport and Community’, in relation to the matter on whether men who say they’re women are entitled to free and unfettered entry into all women’s and girls’ spaces and sports, the HRC gives the advice that it’s “unlawful” for service providers to not give access to men who say they’re women. However strongly stated it may come across as, it seems that this is not to be taken as legal advice, though.
Unsurprisingly, this can be very confusing for service providers, especially when s46 of the Human Rights Act 1993, updated in Dec 2022, still says that a single-sex service can be provided on the grounds of public decency or public safety.
For service providers who choose to override the Human Rights Act in favour of the Human Rights Commission’s advice on their FAQ webpage, it could beg the question what exactly do they consider decent or safe about allowing any man whomsoever says he’s a woman into women’s and girls’ spaces and sports?
NZ’s Dept of Internal Affairs also clarifies that a service provider can make their own policies about whether or not they allow any man who says he’s a woman into women’s and girls’ spaces and sports, regardless of how a person identifies or what is on their birth certificate.
So why are there some service providers, the Christchurch City Council for example, still blowing off women’s and girls legitimate concerns about being forced to share what should be their single-sex spaces with men who say they’re women? Concerns which are age-old, stand the test of time, and haven’t ever changed. A man saying he’s a woman doesn’t make him one. We have to be born female, and no adopted ‘woman’ persona can turn a man into one. Whatever he calls himself, he’s still only ever a man.
The Human Rights Commission’s advice above around “trans people” doesn’t appear to give a complete picture of a service provider’s options and obligations, and instead seems to steer the reader in the direction of a desired outcome.
Hopefully, the FAQ webpage’s disclaimer will help those who seek advice from it to understand that it may not be the final word on any matter within it. As far as single-sex services go, the choice is still available to provide them, and seeking legal advice on that outside of the HRC’s advice could be wise.
This article was originally published at https://aboldwoman.substack.com/p/whats-this-new-zealands-human-rights. It is reproduced on Plain Sight with permission.