What We Do

Rainbow Path:

  • supports LGBTQIA+ asylum seekers and refugees living in Aotearoa New Zealand
  • leads advocacy work on our human rights
  • increases allies’ awareness of the issues we face and
  • builds support for changes to laws, policies and practices.

Rainbow Path can provide information on your rights and entitlements, the support services available for asylum seekers and refugees, and general information about life as a Rainbow person in New Zealand. There are more details on our Get Support pages.

We can link you to:

  • other Rainbow groups (such as RainbowYOUTH, Gender Minorities Aotearoa and OUTLine) and
  • refugee and asylum organisations, such as Asylum Seekers’ Support Trust (ASST) and Refugees As Survivors NZ (RASNZ). 

You can find these groups’ details on our Useful Links page.

Please note, we are not lawyers or immigration advisors. We cannot represent or advise anyone about their asylum claim or influence the decision made about your case. We can refer you to a lawyer for that advice, and we help in other ways so you can focus on your claim.

We can only help people who are already in New Zealand. If you are an asylum seeker from overseas, this ORAM website contains some basic information for anyone considering leaving their country to escape persecution. It also has links to local groups that are LGBTIQ friendly. Rainbow Railroad, based in Canada, supports some Rainbow activists to leave their country to escape from violence. This UNHCR website gives information on asylum procedures and support available in many countries overseas.

Our key activities are to:

  • support Rainbow refugees and asylum seekers living in Aotearoa NZ and link them to lawyers, Rainbow and refugee community organisations and other services
  • meet regularly to build our group, collating members’ experiences for advocacy
  • draft fact sheets, write submissions, make presentations, and run advocacy campaigns and
  • reach out to allies, decision-makers, and health professionals offering training and resources about the human rights issues that Rainbow refugees and asylum seekers face.

Watch this 1 hour video where two Rainbow Path members talk about the issues faced by Rainbow asylum seekers and refugees in Aotearoa NZ.

Advocacy Campaigns

Rainbow Path’s advocacy work has grown out of the practical difficulties members have faced trying to access basic support and rights. From the start, Rainbow Path has been linking with other refugee and asylum activists internationally and regionally. This page describes some of our advocacy campaigns.

In 2021, Rainbow Path’s major campaign focus is on legal gender recognition. We recently helped Gender Minorities Aotearoa update its submission guide on the BDMRR Bill highlighting some of these remaining gaps for asylum seekers and refugees. When the final Bill comes out in August, we are asking others to raise these issues too.

Legal gender recognition

Refugees and asylum seekers are continually asked to show our identity documents (IDs) to prove who we are and that we are legally able to stay in Aotearoa NZ. Yet most trans 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 NZ doesn’t allow anyone to change their name till they are a permanent resident here. This creates huge stress 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.

In 2019, Rainbow Path made submissions to the Ministers of Immigration and Internal Affairs and to a select committee, lobbied Ministers at ILGA World and spoke up at Immigration New Zealand’s Asylum Forum. The Auckland District Law Society’s Immigration and Refugee Committee has also written in support of our concerns. As a result, this issue was prioritised in two official reports in 2020, by the Human Rights Commission and a Ministerial Working Group. Since the 2020 election, Rainbow Path has written to the new Minister of Internal Affairs and government officials asking for action on these recommendations.

Access to health services

Asylum seekers and convention refugees are entitled to free public healthcare and many subsidised refugee support services, but we are often left out by service providers due to the lack of information and knowledge about our rights. When accessing healthcare services, Rainbow asylum seekers and refugees often face eligibility issues and identification issues that arise from having inadequate/unusable ID documents. It can be very hard to navigate an entirely new healthcare system in a foreign language, while facing discrimination for both our immigration status and our Rainbow identities at the same time.

In August 2019 we held a workshop for the Auckland Regional Asian & MELAA Primary Care Working Group to improve the awareness and understanding of the challenges we face in accessing GP, hospital and pharmacy services. We continue to push for Rainbow health issues, including access to sexual health services and gender affirming healthcare, to be included in refugee health documents. We also work with the sexual health services to help our trans members access gender affirming care.

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