A job advertisement stating "precious fairies need not apply"; a school telling a teen to hide his homosexuality, and being told "goodbye gay boy" by a senior colleague are some of the discrimination complaints related to sexual orientation lodged in the past two years.

In 2015 and 2016 the Human Rights Commission (HRC) received 61 complaints alleging discrimination due to one's sexual orientation - a total of 317 in the past decade.

Figures released to the Herald under the Official Information Act (OIA) showed the majority were lodged by men (175), compared to women (57) and transgender (11).

Most incidents were reportedly in the workplace (101), followed by those that occurred in relation to the provision of goods and services (84).


While privacy reasons meant the HRC wasn't able to detail each complaint it released a number of recent examples, including:

• A job advertisement which stated "Precious fairies need not apply".

• Allegations a senior staff member repeatedly asked about a man's sexuality and said "goodbye, gay boy".

• A woman's 15-year-old son was told by her school not to reveal his homosexuality or speak to his friends about it

• A sender complains she booked a hotel room for her partner and was told "your kind are not welcome here" - the complainant identified as a transgender lesbian

• A skincare clinic refusing to provide certain services because of staff assumptions connecting the caller being gay and the HIV risk.

One example to hit the headlines at the end of last year saw Destiny Church's Bishop Brian Tamaki lump homosexuals in the same basket as convicted killers when he blamed "gays, sinners and murderers" for Kaikoura's 7.8 magnitude quake - leading to more than a dozen complaints being laid with the HRC.

Teach Brian Tamaki Love protest outside Destiny's Church in Rotorua in November last year. Photo / Ben Fraser
Teach Brian Tamaki Love protest outside Destiny's Church in Rotorua in November last year. Photo / Ben Fraser

Within the past decade only 17 of the complaints have been resolved, assistance was given to 84 complainants and four cases were referred to the Office of Human Rights Proceedings or the Human Rights Review Tribunal - the outcomes of 176 remained unknown.


It's been 30 years since homosexuality was legalised and while progress towards gender equality continued with the legalisation of civil unions and same-sex marriage members of the LGBTQI [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, and Intersex] community said these figures showed issues remained.

Dame Frances Wilde, a key driving force behind the homosexual law reform, said it had led to vast improvements towards greater acceptance.

"But I think there is still an incipient homophobia in some parts of the community and my main concern would now be for young people at school.

Dame Frances Wilde, a key driving force behind the homosexual law reform, said it led greater acceptance of gay men and the LGBTQI community.
Dame Frances Wilde, a key driving force behind the homosexual law reform, said it led greater acceptance of gay men and the LGBTQI community.

"I think some kids in schools still aren't getting the pastoral care they need."

Wilde said for progress to continue Kiwis needed to recognise the nation's growing diversity.

"Our society is changing very rapidly ... we are just going to have to get used to the fact that New Zealanders won't be able to say most are like me [anymore]."

AUT lecturer Lexie Matheson said stigma against the LGBTQI community remained a "pertinent issue".

"The myth in the general community is that because we now have marriage equality it means all is right with queer people ... but it's not.

"Labels still have a tremendous power and from talking to a few friends ... the stigma is still really pertinent."

Matheson said young transgender women of colour tended to be discriminated against the most; often falling victim to hate crimes and many faced issues finding housing and access to appropriate healthcare which could contribute to serious mental health issues.

"Pre 1986 we were all vilified, now it's certain sectors of our community who still have a very long journey to go on."

In a separate OIA request on allegations of discrimination towards transgender persons the HRC data revealed there had been 221 complaints made in the 10 years to June 2016 - the most related to Government Activity (76) and Employment (50). Records around their resolution were only available from 2012 onwards, 14 were resolved, with seven leading to a change in policy or practice.

HRC commissioner Richard Tankersley said often those who were "physically different" bore the brunt of discrimination.

However, Tankersley said despite existing issues progress had been made and would continue.

"A lot has changed in ten years ... not full progress, but an ongoing realisation of human rights over that period of time."

HRC's equal employment opportunities commissioner Dr Jackie Blue encouraged people to continue to report any discrimination they faced.

"Until we can bring those issues out into the open where they can be discussed incorrect perceptions may continue to exist."

Diversity in employment

Chief officer people and community Sharron-Moana Botica
Chief officer people and community Sharron-Moana Botica

Insurance company Sovereign is working towards greater inclusion of the Rainbow community in all aspects of its business by adding an MX salutation and X gender qualification to its systems.

The company has added the options to its application forms for staff and in-house paper work and is working to ensure its customer system will one-day make both options available across the board.

Chief customer officer Sharron-Moana Botica said this came from a desire to better understand the needs of the Rainbow community.

"As an ally of the Rainbow community, understanding what it means to be intersex was important to me," she said. "It was obvious how challenging and difficult life could be through a lack of inclusion."

And so the company looked at what more it could do for its Rainbow staff.

"We looked at how we can be more inclusive to our staff in the first instance ... and then from a customer perspective."

She said this meant staff, whatever their gender identity, had an option they could choose.

"They have been really appreciative that we are being more inclusive," she said. "It's actually been a good attraction piece for new employees to see what type of employer we are."

Sovereign form with the MX salutation
Sovereign form with the MX salutation

She said while it had been a little challenging in terms of incorporating the X gender designation into its customer system it was something the company hoped to achieve in the next year.

"MX" salutation was easy enough but including the "X" designation in our customer system was a little harder - the main reason being that insurance premiums are calculated in part by gender."

However, she said the team at Sovereign was "definitely" committed to making it happen.