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At TOP we take policy very seriously. We spend hundreds of hours developing each of our policies. This means we don’t have full policies on every issue.
We know, however, that this leaves some people wondering where we stand on issues that are close to their hearts.
Our solution is to develop “position statements”. These are still based on research, although they do not go into the detail we usually have in a full policy, and are intended to provide a strong indicator of our values and approach.
Our general approach to policy is to address the systemic societal and economy-wide issues that other parties have ignored or have not adequately addressed. That has meant looking at how we would fix the entire foundation of our tax and welfare system, how we would transform land use and our housing market, how we would protect and enhance the environment, and how we would prevent mental health problems and adequately resource treatments, and so on.
We know that the Rainbow community is disproportionately affected by housing insecurity, poverty, and mental health issues. So we know our policies will make a huge difference to them. We are also aware that there are a range of issues that affect Rainbow folk that don’t directly affect everyone else.
Our kaupapa is that everyone should have the opportunity to thrive. So we are committed to removing barriers and putting supports in place that give everyone the best chance to live the best lives they can.
This statement shows some of the ways we think we can do that. This is a living document. We are listening and learning. We would love to hear from you if you think we have got some of this wrong, or if we have missed important issues.
Here are some of the principles that infuse our policies. You’ll see how they are relevant to our positions on Rainbow issues:
- Self-determination, self-expression and a sense of belonging are vital to wellbeing.
- Politicians aren’t generally medical experts. Their job is to ensure that there is equitable access to adequate healthcare, and that patients' rights are protected. There is no basis for any other political intervention between patients and their healthcare providers.
- We rely on expertise. Expertise resides in researchers. It also resides in people with lived experience.
- If we don’t know the answers we don’t make stuff up.
- Where interests clash, we want to implement Citizens’ Assemblies. This is where a diverse group of people come together to have an informed discussion about how we can resolve differences or find a way through controversial or highly-charged issues.
- Human rights should not be referendummed away. Members of Parliament have a duty to protect human rights even when it’s not politically advantageous to do so.
- Our rights should be enshrined in a written constitution.
Everyone gets to participate fully in society
- There are lots of ways to have relationships and lots of ways to make families. Legislation and practice must not discriminate on the basis of how consenting adults choose to conduct their relationships and form their families.
- There is no therapy that can change someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity, nor should anyone be forced to try to do this. We would support legislation that effectively bans conversion therapy practices. We are also mindful that it has been challenging to define this practice in a way that doesn’t unnecessarily infringe on religious freedom. Nevertheless, the right of the individual to be protected from harm (whether that be physical or psychological) is paramount.
- All kids should be able to see themselves and their families in education. This is vital both for helping Rainbow kids to enjoy education and for growing a society that is safe and inclusive for everyone.
- Universal design is a valuable tool in enabling participation in society. For example, bathrooms that are designed to safely accommodate people of any gender and with different abilities and physical characteristics are great for everyone.
- Donating blood is an act of great generosity and should be open to those who can safely do so. While some sexual activity is higher risk than others, and some groups have, on average, a higher incidence of HIV/AIDS for example, the current policy lacks nuance. For example it is hard to understand why a man in a monogamous relationship with a man should need to be sexually abstinent to donate blood. Other countries also have much shorter deferral periods than New Zealand.
That includes getting decent healthcare
- Generally health procedures and medications should be funded based on a sober analysis of the costs and benefits (including the benefits of being able to participate fully in society and express one's own identity). We recognise, however, that less common conditions are often left behind in these kinds of assessments. We don’t know how much more resourcing is appropriate for, for instance, gender-affirming surgery. We would defer to expert advice on this. We would also defer to expert advice on what sorts of treatments, such as puberty blockers and hormones, are appropriate for people under the age of 16.
- Babies and children with diverse sex characteristics should not be subjected to unnecessary surgery. We acknowledge that some intersex babies and children have genuine health issues, for example to make urination possible, that do require surgery.
And being able to express our gender identities without being confined to stereotypes
- Gender is about identity, which can and should be self-defined. Sex is a biological term, albeit a more complicated concept than many people appreciate.
- Many aspects of life are unnecessarily gendered. This hurts people of all genders. We are shoehorned into two distinct categories which don’t always reflect reality. This limits gender roles and really harms people who don’t conform to the binary categories.
- Government doesn’t have a role in all these areas, but where possible we should encourage policies and practices that don’t force people into two discrete boxes.
- Transgender, non-binary and intersex people have as much right to participate in sport as anyone. We think it’s going to take some work to figure out how to reconcile the binary categories of sports with the non-binary nature of gender. This is probably a great issue to work through with Citizens’ Assemblies involving people with lived experience and a range of expertise.
- Transgender, non-binary and intersex people should have easy access to gender-affirming identity documents.
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