Rainbow communities could be worse off under the new government, according to an LGBTTQIA+ advocate. 

National, ACT and NZ First have signed coalition agreements which set in place our new government. 

In the National deal with ACT, there are no agreements relating to rainbow communities. 

However, in the National deal with NZ First, there are two agreements that mention gender or sexuality:

  • “Refocus the curriculum on academic achievement and not ideology, including the removal and replacement of the gender, sexuality, and relationship-based education guidelines.”
  • “Ensure publicly funded sporting bodies support fair competition that is not compromised by rules relating to gender.”

“It's really disappointing to see those essentially queerphobic, transphobic things make it into the coalition agreements,” says Tabby Besley, managing director of InsideOUT Kōaro, a national charity that supports queer rangatahi.

Pictured: Tabby Besley, managing director of InsideOUT Kōaro

“My heart goes out to our communities at this time, because it's really scary to see that we've got people in our government … who oppose our fundamental rights to be free from discrimination.”

But Besley assures queer people that the news isn’t all bad.

Agreement 1: Remove and replace gender and sexuality guidelines from the curriculum

The current guidelines were actually introduced in 2020 by NZ First MP and associate education minister at the time Tracey Martin

At the time of their launch, she said: “What this is about is actually about helping young people understanding how to have healthy relationships, how to know themselves and accept themselves, as well as those around them without fear.”

Schools have flexibility on how they implement the gender, sexuality and relationship-based education guidelines

Schools are not necessarily required to teach them, and Besley says that there are many schools that don’t.

“Short of passing legislation through parliament, which has not been committed, there is nothing the government can do to stop schools from teaching about gender and sexuality, each school gets to determine what they teach in consultation with their school community,” says Besley.

The current guidelines provide direction on how to teach a range of topics, including consent, sexual health, sexuality, gender identity and sexual violence. 

“The schools that are already following those guidelines … know how important it is to do this, and that it's a form of bullying prevention and suicide prevention,” says Besley.

On the flip side of this, Besley accepts that it does mean that under the new agreement, schools who aren’t already following the guidelines will not be encouraged to do any better. 

“At the end of the day, we just need to support schools and use our voice where we can to help things move along.”

Lead writer of the guidelines and education professor Katie Fitzpatrick told TVNZ’s Breakfast that the removal of the guidelines is concerning and not in students best interests. 

“It seems like a bit of an attack on young people to be honest, because it’s young people that have been asking for meaningful consent, sexuality and relationship education,” says Fitzpatrick.

“I think young people are worried about this. They want to understand what it might mean and they’re concerned that consent and sexuality education in schools might be removed.”

Agreement 2: Ensure sporting bodies have rules relating to gender that will support fair competition

In the lead up to the election NZ First campaigned on a policy that would “amend the Sport and Recreation New Zealand Act to remove public funding from bodies that allow non-biological women to be selected unequally against biological women”.

The wording of the policy that made it into the National-NZ First coalition agreement appears watered down: “Ensure publicly funded sporting bodies support fair competition that is not compromised by rules relating to gender”.

Advocates aren’t entirely sure how it will be implemented. 

“It's concerning not knowing exactly what [the gender in sports agreement] means in practice,” says Besley. 

“My understanding currently is that … a lot of sporting bodies do already have policies or are trying to make strides towards trans inclusion.

“We can hope that [the new agreement] won't have much influence, but when it is … so vague, it's really hard to know what that means and how it could be enforced.”

NZ First’s toilet policy dropped

NZ First also campaigned on amending the Building Act, “to require in the interest and safety of women and girls, that all public sector organisations provide separate, clearly demarcated, unisex and single sex bathrooms." 

This policy is not included in the coalition agreement. 

During the election campaign National leader Christopher Luxon said it was "on another planet" and there was no need for laws specifying which toilets people could use.

"Bathrooms is not a big topic for this election. What this country is focused on is who are the best economic managers, who's going to reduce the cost of living. When I'm out and about across New Zealand, bathrooms is not going to be a big election issue," Luxon said.

"You are on another planet if you want to have a conversation about bathrooms and make that an election issue.”

At the time NZ First leader Winston Peters argued it was “not about being ‘anti anyone’ or ‘anti anything’" but was instead about "fair inclusion and fairness for all".

“Honestly, I think a lot of the talk about bathrooms was a plea to anti-trans people to get the vote for NZ First,” says Besley.

“But of course, it’s a really scary time for our communities and we need to hold each other through this.”

Re: News contacted National and NZ First for comment, but neither party responded by the time of publication.

More stories:

'It's cunt, it's extra, it's unique': 3 gender diverse people talk clothes

When navigating your gender identity, clothing can play a crucial role in expressing your true self.

Growing up trans in rural NZ: My first school ball

"I’ve always known who I am.”

What the coalition deal means for renters

A Renters United spokesperson says the policies empower landlords and disenfranchise renters.