1 April 2019
By email: [FYI request #9720 email]
Tēnā koe C Montague,
On 28 February 2019 you requested the following information from the Human
Rights Commission (the Commission):
A copy of all analysis the Commission has done on how changes to the
Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationship Registration (BDMRR) Bill or
Act, in favour of one step sex self-identification, impact women and girls’
sex-based human rights;
A copy of all emails the Commission has sent or received which mention the
BDMRR Bill or Act or sex self-declaration, particularly emails which mention
women and girl’s rights in the Human Rights Act, from 1 January 2018 to 28
All emails between the Commission and the Office of the Privacy
Commissioner and/or Crown Law regarding the BDMRR Bill or Act or sex
self-declaration from 1 January 2018 through to 28 February 2019;
A copy of the Commission’s social media policy; and
How many people manage the Commission’s social media accounts;
The sex of those who manage the Commission’s social media
Since 1 January 2018, how many incidents of sexual harassment or abuse
have occurred between the Commission’s staff?
How many of the staff who sexually harassed or abused women are
still employed by the Commission?
In a previous response to the requestor, the Commission stated: "The
Commission acknowledges sex and gender are different
". Is this still the
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Responses from the Commission
The Commission has provided responses to all but one of your requests. The
responses provided are below.
Analysis on the Births, Deaths and Marriages Relationships
Registration Bill or Act
It is the Commission's usual practice to consider proposed changes to legislation
against applicable human rights standards. The Commission’s submission on the
BDMRR Bill accordingly refers to human rights treaties, the United Nations
Yogyakarta principles, reports by the United Nations Office of the High
Commissioner for Human Rights and international case law. The Commission’s
submission was also informed by its previous submissions, the Commission’s
policy on transgender people,1 the Commission’s 2008 Transgender Inquiry2 and
In the process of creating the submission, the Commission did not create a
separate working document setting out an analysis of the Bill.
The Commission consulted with many trans women and cis women in a range of
consultations in late 2017 and early 2018. These consultations were in
preparation for the Commission’s submission to the Committee on the Elimination
of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the International
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and New Zealand’s
Universal Periodic Review (UPR) In-Country Pre-sessions. These were general
consultations about a broad range of human rights issues.
The notes of the CEDAW and UPR consultations show no concerns raised about
any negative impacts arising from the progress of trans people’s rights to have
documentation which aligns with their gender. The notes of the public CEDAW
consultations are publicly available here
on our website. The notes of the public
UPR consultations are publicly available here
on our website.
Emails on the Births, Deaths and Marriages Bill and Act, sex self-
declaration and Human Rights Act
Unfortunately, it has not been possible for the Commission to meet the statutory
time limit in responding to this specific request. Therefore, we are notifying you an
extension of time is required to make our decision.
This extension is necessary because consultations with those who have
corresponded both internally and externally with the Commission about this Bill,
are necessary to make a decision on your request and as such a proper response
cannot be reasonably made within the original time limit.
We will endeavour to respond to you by 5 April 2019.
2 Publicly available on our website.
Emails between the Commission and the Office of the Privacy
Commissioner and Crown Law
The Commission has not had any correspondence with the Crown Law Office
regarding the BDMRR Bill or Act, or sex-declaration.
We have identified one email between the Commission and the Office of the
Privacy Commissioner, which mentions the BDMRR Bill. We have attached
email for you.
Sections of this email have been redacted or withheld under s9(2)(b) to protect
the privacy of natural persons. Other information in the emails has also redacted
or withheld because it was not relevant to the request.
the Commission’s policy on Media Liaison, Social Media and Digital
Security. Sections before and after this specific policy have been redacted or
withheld as it is not relevant to the request.
Currently, there are three staff (one female, two males) who manage our social
media profiles. A range of other staff contribute to the content either directly or
Incidents of sexual harassment within the Commission
Since 1 January 2018, the Commission has not received any complaints from
staff of incidences of sexual harassment or sexual abuse.
The Commission does not currently employ any staff members who have been
the subject of a complaint of sexual harassment or sexual abuse, whilst working at
The Commission’s position on sex and gender
The Commission affirms the terminology defined in the Yogyakarta Principles
the Additional Yogyakarta Principles (YP+10).
The following definition may assist;
Sexual orientation is understood to refer to each person’s capacity for
profound emotional, affectional and sexual attraction to, and intimate and
sexual relations with, individuals of a different gender or the same gender or
more than one gender.
Gender identity is understood to refer to each person’s deeply felt internal
and individual experience of gender, which may or may not correspond with
the sex assigned at birth, including the personal sense of the body which
may involve, if freely chosen, modification of bodily appearance or function
by medical, surgical or other means) and other expressions of gender,
including dress, speech and mannerisms.
Gender expression is understood as each person’s presentation of the
person’s gender through physical appearance – including dress, hairstyles,
accessories, cosmetics – and mannerisms, speech, behavioural patterns,
names and personal references, and noting further that gender expression
may or may not conform to a person’s gender identity.
Sex characteristics is understood to mean each person’s physical features
relating to sex, including genitalia and other sexual and reproductive
anatomy, chromosomes, hormones, and secondary physical features
emerging from puberty.
To this end, the Commission maintains the position that sexual orientation, gender
identity and expression, and sex characteristics are distinct from one another.
Since 2005, the Commission has interpreted sex
under s21(1)(a) of the Human
Rights Act 1993 to include an individual’s gender identity, gender expression and
While this matter is yet to be determined by the New Zealand
Courts, this interpretation was supported by a 2006 Crown Law opinion by the
Acting Solicitor General. This opinion is publicly available here
on the beehive
If you are unhappy with this response, under the Official Information Act you are
entitled to complain to the Ombudsman’s Office. Information about how to make a
complaint is available at www.ombudsman.parliament.nz
or on freephone 0800
Ngā mihi, Jaimee Paenga
Legal Officer | Kaitiaki Ture
New Zealand Human Rights Commission | Te Kāhui Tika Tangata
at footnote 1.