New Zealand Law Society

Navigation menu

Registration bill deferral announced

26 February 2019

The Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration Bill will be deferred to deal with problems caused by the select committee process, Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin has announced.

“The Bill began as a simple measure to update the previous legislation and develop new digital and online channels to access births, deaths and marriages information,” says Ms Martin.

“However, significant changes were made to the Bill by the select committee around gender self-identification and this occurred without adequate public consultation.  This has created a fundamental legal issue.”

Ms Martin says no-one will lose any current rights from the delay of the bill and she wants to make it easier for people to formally acknowledge their identified gender.

Changes made at the select committee introduced clauses allowing individuals to change the sex on their birth certificate via an administrative process based on self-identification. This is a substantial change from the current Family Court process that requires evidence of medical treatment.

The select committee reported on its recommended changes on 10 August 2018.

“The self-identification clauses were added at select committee, after submissions on the Bill closed, meaning stakeholders may have missed an opportunity to comment,” Ms Martin says.

She says there has been extensive consultation on this issue in other jurisdictions. For example, in England and Wales there was a submission period of almost four months.

“There are also wider legal implications of changing to a self-identification system that need further consideration. The Crown Law Office have provided advice that the self-identification clauses would benefit from clarification. This includes making clear the circumstances where a person’s sex or gender identity might need to be determined independently of the sex shown on their birth certificate and how this should be determined (eg, enrolment in single sex schools, accessing services at women’s refuges, and the criminal justice system).

“Deferring the Bill will allow for more comprehensive consideration of the legal implications of this issue and formal public consultation.”

Last updated on the 16th September 2019