Support Rainbow Path’s submission on the BDMRR Bill

Midnight this Tuesday 14 September is the closing date for submissions on the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration (BDMRR) Bill.

Rainbow Path supports this Bill. It is a huge step forward for trans and non-binary people born In Aotearoa. However, it excludes most trans, non-binary and intersex asylum seekers, refugees and migrants.

Together we can push for legal gender recognition for ALL of our communities.

A Rainbow Path poster saying welcome in many languages, with details about Rainbow Path's website (rainbowpathnz.com) and email (rainbowpath@protonmail.com )
Rainbow Path poster with contact details

What’s wrong with the Bill

The Bill will make the process for changing sex details on a NZ birth certificate much simpler, based on a person’s self-defined identity. However, it:

  • fails to introduce any form of legal gender recognition for asylum seekers and refugees on temporary visas and
  • removes existing rights for quota refugees and migrants who have permanent residence.

What you can do

The Select Committee is asking people to make submissions on the final proposed changes to the BDMRR Bill. Those changes are contained in Supplementary Order Paper (SOP) 59. One of the examples mentioned explicitly on the Select Committee’s website explains how the SOP affects people born overseas. That proposed change says:

  • “that the self-identification provisions cannot be used to change the individual’s birth records from another country”.

This means that legal gender recognition issues for asylum seekers, refugees and migrants are part of the Select Committee’s Inquiry.

In our last blog, Rainbow Path explained the different issues each of these groups may face. Now that we have the wording of the SOP, we have developed some specific recommendations for the Select Committee.

Rainbow Path is asking for your support for these three issues and recommendations

Step 1: Read Rainbow Path’s key points and recommendations

Below is a summary of Rainbow Path’s submission. People are very welcome to say you support our submission.

  1. The SOP and the Bill remove permanent residents’ existing right to legal gender recognition
  • Permanent residents born overseas will no longer be able to go the Family Court to get a Declaration as to Sex that has their correct sex recorded, based on their gender. This removes two existing rights:
    • Permanent residents who were born in other countries that have a gender recognition law (e.g. the UK), used that Declaration as to Sex from the NZ Family Court as evidence to change their birth certificate overseas. They will no longer be able to do that.
    • Permanent residents could use this Declaration as to Sex in Aotearoa as proof of their correct sex / gender. This is especially important for people whose overseas passport has their old name and/or sex marker.
  • This is a backward step for permanent residents, including quota refugees (who arrive here as permanent residents)

Recommendation 1:

  • That the NZ government ensures permanent residents retain their right to obtain official documents with their correct gender and name, through an administrative process based on self-determination (self-identification) so that it is consistent with the changes the Bill is making for other trans, non-binary and intersex people in Aotearoa.

2. The SOP and Bill provide no options for asylum seekers and Convention refugees on temporary visas

The current legal situation

Asylum seekers and Convention refugees on temporary visas cannot change their name in Aotearoa or go to the Family Court to get a Declaration as to Sex. The SOP and Bill will continue to explicitly exclude them because they were born overseas.

  • When an asylum seeker is recognised as a Convention refugee, New Zealand accepts that it is unsafe for this person to return to their country of origin and that they have nowhere else to go. Aotearoa is their home, and yet they cannot obtain an official document with their correct name and sex / gender marker.

What Rainbow Path has been lobbying for

Rainbow Path members have been lobbying since 2018 for asylum seekers and Convention refugees to be able to obtain official documentation with their correct name and sex / gender marker. Without such documents, they face immense barriers trying to access basic fundamental services, and potential danger every time they use outdated ID from their country of nationality.

  • This official document must not include the trans person’s original name or sex marker or in any other way disclose that they are trans. Doing so would pose significant safety risks for those fleeing persecution for being transgender, including for partners or family members overseas. This is why a document like a name change certificate is not a suitable option for transgender refugees and asylum seekers to use on its own to verify their identity.
  • A certificate of identity with the correct name and gender is potentially one solution, as it is a document that both the Department of Internal Affairs and Immigration NZ can issue for some asylum seekers people in Aotearoa on temporary visas. A refugee travel document from the Department of Internal Affairs can be issued to someone after their refugee status has been confirmed.

Recommendation 2:

  • That the NZ government issues trans, non-binary and intersex asylum seekers and Convention refugees on temporary visas with an official document with their correct name and gender e.g. a certificate of identity issued by the Department of Internal Affairs and/or Immigration NZ.

3. The Bill provides no options for other migrants in NZ on temporary visas

The current legal situation

  • The existing Family Court process, the SOP and the Bill all exclude migrants living in New Zealand who are on temporary visas. Some may have lived in New Zealand for a long time.
  • Trans and non-binary people born overseas, particularly people of colour, are regularly asked to show their passport to prove their immigration status, including their ability to work or study here. They face significant challenges when they have no New Zealand documentation with a name and gender / sex marker that matches their affirmed gender.
  • Rainbow Path supports the need for a legal gender recognition process for these migrants too based on self-identification, for example through a statutory declaration process.
  • There is a growing number of countries overseas that allow migrants on temporary visas to change their name and/or sex details after living in the country for a minimum number of months or a year.

Recommendation 3:

  • That the NZ government explores options for migrants on temporary visas to be able to obtain an official document with their correct name and gender through a simple, administrative, self-declaration process.

Step 2: Explain why these issues are important to you

It is really important to not just copy and paste our blog post. Use your own words to describe why these issues are important.

Share your personal experiences, and your hopes that the government will ensure any trans, non-binary or intersex person living in Aotearoa can have an official document with their correct name and sex marker.

If you don’t know a lot about the experiences of asylum seekers and refugees, there are still things you can say. Here are just two examples.

  • Most trans or non-binary people born in Aotearoa also know what it’s like not having a birth certificate with your correct details. Many have been able to change your NZ passport and use that as an ID, because that process is already based on a simple self-declaration form. Imagine what it’s like for someone who can’t change their name or sex details details on an overseas passport (or birth certificate) and isn’t eligible for a NZ passport because they are not a NZ citizen.
  • Migrants who aren’t trans will know how often people ask you to prove your immigration status in Aotearoa. Imagine what that’s like when none of your documents have a name, sex marker or photo that sounds or looks like you.

Step 3: Make a submission online

Gender Minorities Aotearoa:

Send your submission to the Select Committee before midnight this Tuesday 14 September.

  • You can write your submission directly into the online form on the Select Committee’s website, or upload a file there.

Thanks a lot for your support – together we can do this!

All trans and non-binary people in Aotearoa need legal gender recognition

Rainbow Path has been lobbying for almost three years for legal gender recognition, so that trans and non-binary asylum seekers and refugees can obtain official documentation confirming their name and gender.

Refugees and asylum seekers are continually asked to show our identity documents to prove who we are and that we are legally able to stay in Aotearoa NZ. Yet most trans and non-binary asylum seekers and refugees have to use ID documents that have the wrong name and/or gender marker. Most have us arrived from a country where it is not possible to change our name and/or gender marker – and Aotearoa NZ doesn’t allow anyone to change their name till they are a permanent resident here. This creates huge barriers including trying to open a bank account so we can get an emergency benefit, or convincing an employer that the work visa we are showing them was issued to us.

Rainbow Path supports the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration (BDMRR) Bill that will make it simpler for people born in Aotearoa NZ to amend their birth certificate. We have lobbied against the Bill’s proposal that legal gender recognition is limited to people born here. Permanent residents must retain the right to obtain a formal NZ document confirming their correct name and gender.

On its own, the Bill is not enough. There are also changes needed to other laws and policies, so that every trans and non-binary person living in Aotearoa has access to legal gender recognition – including asylum seekers and refugees and migrants on temporary visas. Rainbow Path has been lobbying on these specific issues for almost three years.

Rainbow Path recently helped Gender Minorities Aotearoa update its submission guide on the BDMRR Bill highlighting some of these remaining gaps. When the final Bill comes out this month, we are asking others to raise these issues too.

It is also important that submissions do not conflate the experiences of all people born overseas; for example, by making generalised statements about “trans migrants, refugees and asylum seekers”. There are differences between the experiences and legal barriers faced by each of these groups. Some are based on whether a trans or non-binary person is on a temporary or permanent visa or is a NZ citizen, and whether they are able to achieve any form of legal gender recognition in their country of birth or nationality. Listen to the diverse experiences of those who are directly affected by gaps in current laws and policies, and their recommendations.

Read more in Gender Minority Aotearoa’s submission guide – under the three separate sections about legal gender recognition issues faced by:

  • asylum seekers and Convention refugees on temporary visas
  • migrants on temporary visas and
  • permanent residents born overseas.
Trans person sitting at a desk writing a submission with posters on the wall behind her supporting the BDMRR Bill
Source: Counting Ourselves report. Artist: Huriana Kopeke-Te Aho

Rainbow Path’s panel is back on!

Register for this 15 July event

Rainbow Path logo of 6 silhouettes in Rainbow colours, the Proud Centre logo and the title of this event "So Far to Go: the rights of refugees and asylum seekers.

Rainbow Path’s Auckland Pride 2021 event is back on – and the timing is even better!

The night before our February Pride event, Auckland went into lockdown. It took a while to find a new time that worked for all our amazing speakers. Listen to our great panel and learn how you support current campaigns to end the detention of asylum seekers and ensure asylum seekers, refugees and migrants can change their name and gender marker on IDs too.

So Far To Go: The Rights of Asylum Seekers and Refugees
When: Thursday 15 July, 7 – 9pm.
Where: Ellen Melville Centre, 2 Freyberg Place, Auckland Central
Cost: FREE
Register: here
This venue has an accessible toilet and is wheelchair friendly.

Our expert panel includes:
* The Green Party’s Refugee Spokesperson, MP Golriz Ghahraman
* Rainbow refugees and asylum seekers
* The Asylum Seekers’ Support Trust
* Refugee lawyer Stewart Dalley
* A member of the Immigration and Protection Tribunal.

“So far to go” depicts both the distance Rainbow refugees and asylum seekers have travelled to Aotearoa NZ and the huge gaps in our immigration laws and policies that leave refugees and asylum seekers isolated with inadequate support, sometimes held in detention. Find out more about the changes needed to fully respect the rights of all refugees and asylum seekers in Aotearoa NZ – including additional challenges faced by those who are members of our Rainbow communities.

COVID-19 has exposed the lack of support for asylum seekers and refugees in Aotearoa New Zealand, particularly those on temporary visas. It has also seen an increase in xenophobia and anti-immigration sentiments. How can Rainbow communities better support refugees and asylum seekers, including through advocating for changes to immigration policies?

So Far to Go panel postponed – stay in touch online for updates

Rainbow Path’s So Far to Go panel on refugees’ and asylum seekers’ rights was scheduled for tonight, Monday 15 February, as part of the Auckland Pride festival. We regret that it has had to be postponed because Auckland is in Alert level 3.

This panel is really important for us. So Rainbow Path will definitely still be holding the panel discussion – probably in March at the Ellen Melville Centre. It will be a great opportunity to find out more about the changes needed to fully respect the rights of all refugees and asylum seekers in Aotearoa NZ – including additional challenges faced by those who are members of our Rainbow communities.

Rainbow Path is really glad that we were still able to have our stall at the Big Gay Out yesterday. A huge thanks to Refugees as Survivors NZ for booking the space and sharing it with us. We were an awesome team together.

Rainbow Path reached out to our panel speakers last night and we hope to confirm a new date soon. We will also send everyone who registered for the panel discussion an email with the new event date.

Follow us on our Facebook page, as we will also post updates there. Please help us promote our website too, so it comes up in online searches when people are urgently looking for support.


Rainbow Path warmly invites you to our Auckland Pride panel: So Far To Go

We would love to see you at our Auckland Pride 2021 event: So Far To Go: The Rights of Asylum Seekers and Refugees.


When: Monday 15 February, 7 – 9pm.
Where: Ellen Melville Centre, 2 Freyberg Place, Auckland Central
Cost: FREE
Register: click here
This venue has an accessible toilet and is wheelchair friendly.

“So far to go” depicts both the distance Rainbow refugees and asylum seekers have travelled to Aotearoa NZ and the huge gaps in our immigration laws and policies that leave refugees and asylum seekers isolated with inadequate support, sometimes held in detention. Our expert panel includes the Green Party’s Refugee Spokesperson, MP Golriz Ghahraman, Rainbow refugees and asylum seekers, refugee lawyers, and community advocates. Find out more about the changes needed to fully respect the rights of all refugees and asylum seekers in Aotearoa NZ – including additional challenges faced by those who are members of our Rainbow communities.

COVID-19 has exposed the lack of support for asylum seekers and refugees in Aotearoa New Zealand, particularly those on temporary visas. It has also seen an increase in xenophobia and anti-immigration sentiments. How can Rainbow communities better support refugees and asylum seekers, including through advocating for changes to immigration policies?