18th January 2008 17:30
PinkNews.co.uk staff writer
The Human Rights Commission in New Zealand has recommended that citizens should be able to alter their sex on documents such as passports and birth certificates.Following a two-year study the commission has said the country's Human Rights Act should be amended to make gender identity discrimination illegal."Forms of discrimination and harassment ranged from low-level (avoidance and insults) to very severe (violent physical and sexual assaults)," the commission said. It found that 80% of trans people in New Zealand had experienced discrimination. Former MP Georgina Beyer welcomed the report. The first trans person to be elected as an MP, she had previously tried to amend the Human Rights Act. She told NZPA that making the recommended changes to the law should be implemented. "What it would do is further assimilation into society of a marginalised group who tend to be forgotten, dismissed and given no particular importance."The majority of them end up becoming burdens on society because of the way we treat them and here is an opportunity to give them tools by which they can integrate and become positive contributors."The commission highlighted the plight of trans children at school, which angered the deputy leader of the conservative New Zealand First party. Peter Brown accused the commission of "wasting tens of thousands of dollars studying a non-issue that affects a tiny minority," and claimed trans children "do not need pressure or encouragement from fringe liberals to wear drag to school." "Just because technology physically allows a person's sex to be changed, it does not mean that society should be forced to accept the results, or pay for them."Ms Beyer was not overly optimistic that the proposals would be implemented. "Under a Labour Government you might have a chance, but I doubt it somehow," she told the New Zealand Herald. "But my God, if we get a right-wing government in, there will be no way."400 New Zealanders, 0.01% of the population, show their gender as `X' rather than male or female in their passports and 400 to 800 (0.01-0.02%) belong to transgender groups, according to the Herard.