The last couple of weeks of Aotearoa’s culture wars has been interesting.
On Wednesday the Government brought back into Parliament the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Bill for its second reading. There may have been background negotiations because the debate went remarkably smoothly. National did not play any games. Maybe they learned from the furore over their opposition to the banning of Gay Conversion Therapy bill that these issues need to be handled in a more respectful manner although the report back from the select committee indicated they would approach the issue in a responsible way.
Last week when the Gay Conversion Therapy ban bill was introduced National said that it supported the intent and wanted to make the bill better but then opposed its introduction. With the latest bill they chose to support it at least back to select committee. Nicola Grigg, who kicked the debate off for National said this:
I rise as the National Party’s spokesperson for women to take a call on the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Bill, which National is pleased to support tonight. Can I start by acknowledging the trans community of New Zealand who we welcome, we embrace, and I commit now that so long as I am a member of this House I will work to advance their rights and protections—and I say that to every single woman in New Zealand, irrespective of the sex marker on their birth certificate.
I read that and the first thing I thought about is did they run this past Judith Collins? Because her press secretary Ani O’Brien has, and I write this knowing that she has recently threatened some sort of legal action against someone on twitter for saying things about her and now has a gofundme page to pay for the legal action, has not been very supportive of the concepts behind the BDMR Bill which allows for self identification of gender. Or am I misunderstanding her? If I am wrong I am happy to be corrected.
Without a hint of irony Grigg also said this:
It is imperative the public, the experts, the clinicians, and trans New Zealanders can all have the opportunity to have a say and feed into this legislation. Organisations, groups, and individuals who have concerns about the impact of sex self-ID have not had the opportunity to contribute and be a part of the democratic process. It is now time for their voice to be heard. It has been a messy process, but I look forward to the select committee consideration of the proposed changes and to seeing if we in this House can produce a high-quality piece of legislation for all women. And I commend this bill to the House.
This contrasts starkly to the their opposite response to the Gay Conversion Banning Bill which National opposed, even though it was saying that it supported the principle. This led to this extraordinary exhange in Parliament:
CHLÖE SWARBRICK (Green—Auckland Central): I seek leave of the House, Madam Speaker, to table a document. I seek leave of the House to table the document, the Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Bill, because it appears that the Opposition has not read it.
ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Hon Jenny Salesa): I seek leave of the House that that document be tabled.
Simeon Brown: Point of order. That’s not a point of order—that’s not a point of order.
ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Hon Jenny Salesa): Are you seeking a point of order, Simeon Brown? SIMEON BROWN (National—Pakuranga): Well, point of order, Madam Speaker. That’s a publicly available document.
The Bill may have been publicly available but this begs the question why National’s caucus had not read it.
Ad wrote this, in my opinion, very good analysis of the BDMRR bill. I agree entirely with his comments. Other lefties do not. That is the way that progressive politics roll sometimes.
My personal view is that the BDMRR Bill is not too radical. It alters what is currently a rather difficult process to have your gender on your birth certificate changed into something easier. The rationale is compelling. Someone who has transitioned from what was conventionally regarded as their birth sexual identity could be discriminated against if they were obliged to present official documentation relating to their birth to a prospective employer. This bill allows this possibility to be avoided.
Which makes it so strange that National let it through without the hint of a culture war. Trying to stop the banning of the barbaric practice of gay conversion therapy is pretty rank. Allowing self identification to become part of our country’s law is arguably a more liberal position to take and good on National for allowing the select committee process to allow
I wonder what happened?