What is the Rainbow Agenda?

Inclusiveness and dignity for all Rainbow New Zealanders


Labour will:

  • take real action so that every young person has a safe place to learn and thrive and a warm dry home to live in
  • ensure our health system is inclusive and works for everyone 
  • lead an active Government which empowers people and ensures formal equality under the law, especially for trans and intersex New Zealanders.

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and human rights. This means all people should have the same basic rights, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics.

Future Labour Governments will continue to work towards equality by eliminating remaining areas of discrimination in our law, and ensuring that Rainbow* New Zealanders can live in safety and dignity.


Freedom to Thrive

Every New Zealander should be able to live a life of safety and dignity.

Real action so we have safe schools for our youth

No young person should be subject to verbal and physical abuse and made to feel inferior. Labour will take action to eradicate discrimination, violence and bullying, and to combat suicide and self-harm.

Labour will:

  • ensure intensive intervention and adequate levels of support for Rainbow youth in the compulsory education system
  • support schools to develop comprehensive policies and actions to deal with bullying on the grounds of actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression and intersex status
  • implement the Ministry of Education’s Sexuality Education Guidelines as part of the Health curriculum
  • strengthen the Education Review Office’s remit to include looking at Rainbow student well-being and anti-bullying reporting requirements as indicators in their review of schools.

Ensure an inclusive health system which works for everyone

Our health system needs to improve in several ways to protect the wellbeing of every Rainbow New Zealander. We need to eliminate disparities by having excellent public health and prevention initiatives and ensuring practitioners and providers give respectful effective service and treatment.

Alongside our overall health policy:

Labour will:

  • help achieve the goal of ending HIV in New Zealand by 2025 by: increasing access to sexual health services, testing, and early treatment; funding access to pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP); and supporting education, research, and community groups which help achieve this goal
  • improve access to affordable primary care based on the informed consent model, particularly for younger, trans, and intersex New Zealanders. This also includes training and resources for health professionals about sexual orientation and gender diversity
  • provide targeted suicide prevention funding to build capacity of rainbow community support organisations and mainstream crisis support and services.
  • increase resourcing for youth mental health
  • support and ensure all district health boards reduce barriers for trans and gender diverse people to access gender affirming healthcare, transition related medical support (including hormones, social support and other cosmetic interventions), and an assessment of the need for gender reassignment surgery as an elective service
  • ensure fair access to publicly funded gender affirming surgical options for trans and gender diverse people based on need.

Security and dignity for all

As well as positive health and education policies, we will ensure everyone has a safe warm home to live in.

Tackling youth homelessness

Homelessness has grown in New Zealand over the past eight years, and young Rainbow people make up a significant proportion of people sleeping rough because they have left home due to an unsafe environment.

Labour will:

  • ensure the needs and specific circumstances of young Rainbow people are actively addressed in our strategies to reduce homelessness

Supporting positive ageing

Growing numbers of Rainbow New Zealanders are now approaching retirement and may face issues which are not faced by heterosexual people at this age. Some lack family support networks and live away from their families where they have been subjected to homophobic/transphobic treatment. Rest homes and aged care services may not fully understand the medical and sexual needs of older Rainbow residents.

We don’t want people to ‘go back into the closet’ as they approach retirement as this can affect their health and well-being.

Labour will:

  • support initiatives which ensure Rainbow New Zealanders approaching retirement can continue to live safely and openly in supported living environments like retirement homes and aged care facilities.

An active Government which empowers people and ensures formal equality under the law

There are still hurdles to achieving full equality for Rainbow New Zealanders. We will build on the progress made with Homosexual Law Reform, the Human Rights Act, Civil Unions, and Marriage Equality. We will also look to models of international good practice, such as Malta’s Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act.

Labour will:

end formal discrimination 

  • review laws and policies that interfere with the right to be free from discrimination under section 19 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990
  • include gender identity as a prohibited ground of discrimination under the Human Rights Act 1993.

promote freedom and equality for Rainbow people internationally

Labour in Government will express our values internationally as a leading voice ensuring all Rainbow people internationally are free and equal in rights and dignity, including as an advocate on individual cases.

Labour will:

  • maintain and grow strong New Zealand participation in international bodies dealing with Human Rights, especially at the United Nations level
  • oppose the criminalisation of consensual adult same-sex activity, and other instances of discrimination against GLBTI people
  • use refugee and asylum seeker policy as a way to address humanitarian needs of GLBTI global citizens

count and engage everyone

  • accurately collect statistical data on Rainbow communities so that we take an evidence-based approach to policy formation and programme development in areas such as health, social development, and justice
  • fund research on the health and well-being of rainbow communities, for example, research on adolescent youth and on sexual health
  • engage trans, gender diverse, and intersex persons and communities to support a ‘whole of life’ approach to their well-being when developing policy and laws

support adoption by same-sex partners 

  • modernise the law relating to the care of children to ensure that the widest possible pool of suitable adults, including same-sex couples, is available to provide care (being foster care, short-term guardianship and other forms of custody) to children in need

improve access to services and rights for transgender and intersex New Zealanders

  • implement the recommendations of the Human Rights Commission’s To Be Who I Am: Kia Noho au Ki Toku Ano Au Final report of the Inquiry into Discrimination experienced by Transgender and Intersex People. This includes (but is not limited to):
    • amending the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration Act 1995 to allow the Registrar General to amend birth certificates on submissions of appropriate declarations and evidence (rather than medical examination or family court processes)
    • ensuring fair access to justice for trans people and fair treatment by law enforcement and corrections staff and facilities to avoid misgendering and risk due to gender identity
    • develop and implement a child rights-based health care protocol for intersex children so that no one is subjected to unnecessary medical or surgical treatment during infancy or childhood.

* We use Rainbow as an inclusive word to welcome people who have a diverse sex, gender identity or sexual orientation. Some of the words that people in rainbow communities in Oceania use to describe themselves may include:

  • gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex 
  • akava’ine, fa’afafine, fa’afatama, fakafifine, fakaleiti, fakaleiti (leiti), mahu, palopa, takatāpui, tangata ira tane, vakasalewa, whakawahine 
  • agender, asexual, brotherboy, gender diverse, gender fluid, genderqueer, nonbinary, pansexual, queer, sistergirl, trans feminine, trans masculine, transexual, trans 

Auckland Museum awarded Rainbow Tick in sector first

Auckland Museum is delighted to be the first Museum in New Zealand to have been awarded the Rainbow Tick, an external audit and quality improvement programme designed to help an organisation to be a safe, welcoming and inclusive place for people of diverse gender identity and sexual orientation.

“The Museum encourages diversity in the workplace and sees real value in embracing people from a wide range of different perspectives and experiences,” says Catherine Smith, Auckland Museum’s Director of People and Organisation.

“We are proud to have gained Rainbow Tick accreditation, an acknowledgement that we have been proactively nurturing a culture where differences are truly celebrated.

“We take our commitment to Auckland very seriously and it’s crucial that our policies and practices reflect and support the many communities that we serve.”

Rainbow Tick has a focus on continual improvement and accreditation is awarded once an organisation has demonstrated achieved across five areas of evaluation.

The auditing process examines company policy, training, engagement and organisational support, external engagement and ongoing monitoring. This was supported by working with current Museum staff members from the LGBTTI community.

Auckland Museum was presented with the Rainbow Tick accreditation by Michael Stevens, Rainbow Tick Programme Director and equality advocate, MP Louisa Wall.

Michael says the Museum has demonstrated genuine understanding of the value of being a truly inclusive workplace.

“As a place that many Aucklanders hold dear, it’s fantastic that they are not only the first Museum in New Zealand to have been awarded the Rainbow Tick, they have demonstrated sector leadership by also being the first Rainbow Tick accredited cultural institution nationally.”

To celebrate this achievement the Museum flew the Rainbow flag and was lit in rainbow colours.

Time to end invisibility of LGBT people in Georgia

A UN expert has commended the commitment of the Georgian Government to address violence and discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and trans persons, but has expressed concern that implementation is falling short of what is urgently needed.

The UN Independent Expert on Violence and Discrimination based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, Victor Madrigal-Borloz said beatings were commonplace, harassment and bullying constant, and exclusion from family, education, work and health settings appear to be commonplace.

“The majority of Georgians who happen to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans face dilemmas: leaving the country or staying and taking one of two paths: revealing their true self and be subjected to certain violence and discrimination, or concealing this essential aspect of their identity and living in a world of deception,” Madrigal-Borloz said.

“In recent years, the Government has taken significant steps to address the situation of LGBT people, which are among the most discriminated and vulnerable communities in Georgia,” he said in a statement at the end of his 11-day visit to Tbilisi, Kutaisi and Batumi regions.

Madrigal-Borloz said trans persons, particularly trans women, find it difficult to access State services, a challenge exacerbated by abusive requirements for legal recognition of their gender identity, and disempowerment resulting from reliance on the opinion of medical doctors, unnecessary on this matter.

The expert met a wide range of stakeholders from Government and civil society, and many LGBT people shared with him life experiences and stories. One of them, a gay man, told Madrigal-Borloz: “some people tell us that this change will take 30 years. But I am 34 years old! I cannot wait 30 more years to be free!”

The Independent Expert also met with high-level representatives of the Patriarchate of the Georgian Orthodox Church and other religious leaders, including the Mufti of All Muslims of Georgia and the Chairman of the Jewish Council of Georgia. “Despite differences of opinion, I am encouraged that during all of these meetings we identified a basic common ground: violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity are never justified and must be condemned and discouraged. Active dialogue is one of the guiding principles for my mandate, and I am delighted to have been able to deploy this approach so actively during this visit,” said Madrigal-Borloz.

“The Government of Georgia has already taken the most important step: recognising the eradication of violence and discrimination as one of its main priorities, and firmly declaring sexual orientation and gender identity as protected grounds. I encourage the authorities to continue along this path; I am convinced that respect, peaceful coexistence and tolerance are cherished Georgian values and I am certain that they will provide a foundation where all Georgians who happen to be gay, lesbian, trans or bisexual will live free and equal.”

Rainbow crossing to shine with pride in capital

Wellington’s Rainbow Crossing will soon become a reality, with the controlled crossing to be officially opened on 10 October to coincide with the birthday of one of the city’s most iconic transgender activists, Carmen Rupe (1936-2011).

The crossing will be installed between the traffic lights at the intersection of Dixon St and Cuba Mall says Mayor Justin Lester.

“Cuba Street is considered by many to be the spiritual home of Wellington’s pride movement and a rainbow crossing sends a clear, strong, and very public message that Wellington is a city that is tolerant, inclusive and welcoming.”

“The desire for the crossing on Cuba Street has been a recurring piece of feedback from the community, both formally and informally.”

“The project has the backing of local businesses, and is also supported by the LGBTQI community,” he adds.

In February, young Wellington woman Melissa Toomey led an effort to mobilise Wellingtonians to back the idea of a rainbow crossing, garnering nearly 3,000 e-signatures.

In March this year, the Mayor announced that a rainbow crossing would be permanently installed on Cuba Street.

In August, the Wellington City Council held its first-ever Rainbow Hui, bringing together the city’s LGBTQI groups to discuss common issues that impacted the various sects of the community.

The Mayor says that the crossing is just step one in the city’s quest to become “more deliberately LGBTQI-friendly.”

“What we are also hearing from the community is that there is a pressing need for a range of initiatives around safe spaces and access to services in the central city, so we will be looking to work with the community, central city businesses and hospitality to make that a reality.”

The crossing is one of four Cuba Street intersections where in 2016, pedestrian crossing lights were adapted to show a green silhouette of Carmen.

Weather-permitting, painting will begin on 6 October and work will proceed over the weekend. Traffic management plans will be in place.

There will be a marked sign at Cuba Street to denote the safest place for people to take selfies from, and share on social media under the hashtag #wellyrainbow.

The controlled crossing means that people will be able to cross only when the pedestrian lights turn green.