- welcoming the recent announcement of additional funding to combat bullying and improve behaviour in New Zealand schools;
- urging the New Zealand Government to continue its support to promote GLBT rights internationally; and
- reaffirming our support for the gender identity legislation proposed by Georgina Beyer MP.
2. Background to IDAHO and Homophobia
Homophobia is the expression of hostility to people because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation. On Wednesday 17 May 2006, the 2nd annual International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO) will be observed. IDAHO will be marked by the European Parliament, following its recent landmark resolution condemning homophobia, and will feature public activities and demonstrations in at least 34 countries. Rainbow Labour asks New Zealanders to join with us in supporting IDAHO by considering the issues outlined below.
3. Dealing with Bullying in New Zealand Schools
Rainbow Labour welcomes the recent announcement by the Minister of Education that additional Budget funding, of $9.5 million over 4 years, will be used to improve behavious and address the problem of bullying in schools. Rainbow Labour Sector Council Secretary Judie Alison says:
“By international standards, New Zealand has a tragically high youth suicide rate. There is strong evidence that bullying contributes to this. Name calling and abuse of young people for being, or appearing, different is one of the main manifestations of school bullying. Ensuring that our schools recognise and address homophobia will help to maintain and foster a positive environment in schools. This must be an integral part of any anti-bullying measures put in place”.
4. New Zealand’s International Promotion of GLBT Human Rights
In 2005 New Zealand led a group of 33 countries in issuing a statement urging the United Nations Human Rights Commission to recognise sexual orientation as “a status protected against discrimination”. Judie Alison says:
“Too many nations maintain discriminatory laws causing great harm to Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender People. Even in parts of our own international neighbourhood – the Pacific – these laws make life miserable for the people affected by them. In Fiji, for example, there is evidence that although the courts have declared anti-gay legislation to be of no effect, the authorities plan – unconstitutionally - to continue to enforce it. We are proud that, under Labour-led governments, New Zealand has become one of a growing number of countries promoting human rights internationally. This work must continue”.
5. Georgina Beyer MP’s Gender Identity Bill
According to the Human Rights Commission, the ban on sex discrimination contained in the Human Rights Act 1993 already protects transgender people from being fired from their jobs, evicted from their homes or refused access to goods and services on the basis of their transgender status. In 2005, the transgender Labour MP Georgina Beyer proposed the Gender Identity Bill to put this protection beyond doubt. Judie Alison comments:
“The rights to work and to shelter are fundamental ones. People should not be deprived of them on the basis of the prejudice of an employer or a landlord. If there is any legal doubt that this is not already the case, then Parliament should act to remove it by allowing Georgina Beyer’s Bill to progress at the earliest opportunity”.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION AND LINKS
(a) Other Local and International Activity to Mark IDAHO This Year, and Background on IDAHO
(b) The European Parliament’s Landmark Resolution Against Homophobia
(c) Minister of Education’s Pre-Budget Announcement on New Funding for Improved Behaviour in Schools
(d) New Zealand’s International Promotion of GLBT Rights
(e) The Gender Identity Bill, and the Official Position of the New Zealand Human Rights Commission Regarding Transgender Status