Sex, Gender and Discrimination

Start date
16 January 2023
Claudia Geiringer
(04) 9144 806
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Project Overview

The Minister responsible for the Law Commission, Hon Kiri Allan, has asked Te Aka Matua o te Ture | Law Commission to review the protections in the Human Rights Act 1993 for transgender people, non-binary people and people with diverse sex characteristics. 

In January 2023, we commenced initial scoping and research to allow us to develop Terms of Reference for the project. Once the Terms of Reference have been finalised, they will be published on this project webpage. 

Which human rights will this project examine? 

The Minister has asked the Commission to review the protections in the Human Rights Act for transgender people, non-binary people and people with diverse sex characteristics. 

The Human Rights Act protects the right to freedom from discrimination – for example when accessing education, employment, housing, and goods and services. It also covers some associated issues (such as sexual and racial harassment).  

People in New Zealand have other human rights protected by other statutes and by international law. This review will not examine those other rights and will only look at the Human Rights Act. We have not been asked to look at how transgender people, non-binary people and people with diverse sex characteristics are protected by the law more generally.   

Will this project examine hate speech? 

No. The Human Rights Act contains two provisions regulating speech that incites hostility towards certain groups. The Commission will be reviewing those provisions but in a separate project: on Legal Responses to Hate. We have not yet begun our work on that project. 

Whether the Human Rights Act’s incitement provisions should extend to speech that incites hostility to a person based on their sex or gender identity is one of the issues that will be examined in that separate project.   

What is the Law Commission? 

The Commission is an independent body that reviews aspects of New Zealand law and makes recommendations to the Government to improve the law.  

Most of our projects (including this one) are assigned to us by the Government. However, the Government does not direct how we carry out our projects or the recommendations we make. 

You can find out more about how the Commission conducts its projects on the Commission's website

How long will the project take? 

The Commission’s projects involve a detailed and thorough consideration of an area of law. It is not unusual for a project to take several years. 

We have not yet determined the timeframes for this project. That will be one of the questions addressed during the initial scoping exercise. We generally include an expected completion date in a project’s Terms of Reference. 

Can the Law Commission change the law? 

No. At the conclusion of the project, the Commission will publish a final report making recommendations for law reform. It will be up to the Government whether to accept the Commission’s recommendations. You can find out more information about the Commission’s role in law reform on the Commission's website.  

Will there be an opportunity for members of the public to express their views? 

Yes. The Commission’s projects generally involve extensive consultation with interested members of the public. Each project has different needs and we have not yet had the opportunity to decide on the consultation process for this project.  

How can I receive updates on the project? 

You can subscribe to updates on this project. Those updates will include information about the Terms of Reference and consultation process, once settled.  

How can I contact the Law Commission about this project? 

You can email us at or phone us on 04 914 4806 and leave a message on voicemail. These will be monitored.  

Before contacting us, we suggest you review the Have Your Say section of the website.