Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Bill (New Zealand)

On August 10, 2018 the New Zealand Governance and Administration Committee issued a report on the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Bill, recommending that the bill be passed with proposed amendments. The bill reenacts the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Act of 1995, and contains the following proposed amendments, among others: 

  • Allowing the parent or parents to choose their status on their child’s birth certificate as “mother,” “father,” or “parent;”
  • Replacing the Family Court process that currently requires an individual to obtain a declaration prior to changing the the sex recorded on the individual’s birth certificate with “an administrative process based on self-identification.” This process would define “eligible person” as anyone whose birth as been registered in New Zealand. Children would also be eligible for this process with the consent of the eligible child’s guardian.
  • Adding “inter-sex” and “X (unspecified)” as options available to eligible persons seeking to change nominated sex on their birth certificates “to recognize non-binary sexual and gender identities.”
  • Limiting eligible persons to change their nominated sex to one change, unless special reasons exist, except that individuals “should be able to apply to revert to the sex recorded at birth.”
  • Removing all references to “medical treatment,” “medical evidence,” “physical conformation,” “sexual assignment,” and “sexual reassignment” from the bill.

The Lesbian Rights Alliance Aotearoa (“LRAA”) issued a statement opposing the proposed changes in the bill, noting that current “New Zealand law requires a burden of proof in order to change legal sex. There is a family court process to ensure abusers do not take advantage of the system. A shift to simply filling out a form to change sex shows a disregard for women’s human rights.”
Further, LRAA stated:

Because we are a feminist group, the LRAA see the concept of ‘Gender Identity’ as regressive, sexist and homophobic. Gender is the social stereotypes that are assigned to men and women based on sex. Identifying with the stereotype (masculinity or femininity) associated with the opposite sex does not make you that sex. By encoding into New Zealand law that legal sex is about which stereotype one identifies with, our politicians are threatening generations of gains by the women’s liberation movement.

We call on Parliament to examine the repercussions of this bill and for women, especially Lesbians, to speak out against a bill that threatens our rights. Being a woman isn’t about stereotypes. It’s about being an adult human female, which is a material reality that cannot be ‘identified’ into.

Read the full bill here: Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Bill

“Self Declared” Sex Changes Risk Women’s Rights — Lesbian Rights Alliance Aotearoa