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New Green MP vows to stand against discrimination towards rainbow community

New Green MP Dr Elizabeth Kerekere has laid out plans to introduce a Member’s Bill to amend the Human Rights Act to include gender identity, gender expression and sex characteristics as prohibited grounds.

Green MP Dr Elizabeth Kerekere. Source: Facebook

In her maiden speech today, Kerekere said ending discrimination and prejudice against takatāpui (partner of the same sex) and rainbow communities will be her main priority.

"All people deserve acceptance and equal opportunities, no matter their gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics. Yet for too long people in our rainbow community have been marginalised," Kerekere says.

"Takatāpui rights are a Treaty issue and a Māori priority for the Greens."

Kerekere said historically, Te Ao Māori was accepting of "diverse genders and sexualities as a normal part of our communities".

"Colonisation lead to suppression, criminalisation and pathologising of those people and resulted in takatāpui and rainbow people often not being accepted today," she says.

The Human Rights Act 1993 currently does not "specifically acknowledge" the "intersectional discrimination and violence experienced by trans, intersex and non-binary people," Kerekere says.

She noted that the Human Rights Commission had recommended the addition of gender identity and expression to the Act in their PRISM report last year.

“Therefore, my first Member’s Bill adds two new grounds to the list, aptly named: Human Rights (Prohibition of Discrimination on Grounds of Gender Identity and Expression, and Variations of Sex Characteristics) Amendment Bill," Kerekere says. 

“I believe this will help end discrimination whilst also building awareness and understanding of the beautiful diversity that exists within our community.

"There are many extra steps we must take to ensure that our rainbow whānau are truly equal and free from discrimination, and to uphold Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

"This bill will go some way to ensuring that."