Women's Swimming Sessions, or Are They? - New Conservative NZ

Women’s Swimming Sessions, or Are They?

7 March 2022

New Conservative notes that transparency is a constantly growing concern for the NZ public around central government, but we must also be vigilant about how our local government manages our resources and rights.

Last week Helen Houghton, Co-leader for New Conservative, and several other women were involved in a meeting with the Christchurch City Council (CCC) where its representatives Nigel Cox (Recreation, Sports & Events Unit Manager), Elizabeth Neazor (lawyer for CCC), and Jenny Jordan (Team Activities Leader) discussed the Council’s recent inclusion of adults with male anatomy into private spaces for women.

At the time of an announcement by CCC claiming to support women being able to participate more in safety and privacy, the women were not informed that not only biological women (real women) would be participating in the women’s sessions, but so too would any adult who identifies as female, including men with full male anatomy.

While we give credit to the Recreation, Sports & Events Unit Manager Nigel Cox, for their initial good intention of ‘Removing Barriers for Women’ titled article below, good intentions don’t always make for good outcomes for all, and we must, when addressing rights, ensure a fair balance to all.

The article is completely at odds with barriers for women while their intention includes transgender people. This is a misrepresentation of women and rights for women. New Conservative, while supporting all people will continue to be clear that “women” do not include trans-identified people, and challenges the assertion that society has appeased a small group with a misunderstanding that it is common to be born into the wrong body.

While some activists shoulder their way into policymaking by driving campaigns for norms to be changed, we cannot change biology. Sparing the feelings of individuals by downright lying is not supporting those who are struggling, and the negative outcome is rejecting the foundation of identity which has caused an exponential growth of anxiety and confusion in our young people.

A quote from the article, “These may be based on cultural or religious requirements, women who may be body conscious or have low self-esteem or who simply want a place to spend time and connect with female friends, family or sports teams.” During our meeting and presenting of both sides, at no time did CCC voluntarily promote women’s rights even with a lawyer present. It was Helen Houghton, New Conservative Co-leader, who had to quote the Human rights Act, BORA, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights articles and she stated that “Privacy is an important right in NZ. It is protected by domestic legislation, common law and international law. NZ is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the international Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which uphold an individual’s right to privacy.” 

The only response Jordan could give when asked how they would ensure no women would be harmed was, “There is a high level of trust involved,” and that they had input and training from Qtopia, an organisation promoting rainbow rights, about what to do if a man got out of hand. The appalling fact is that only Qtopia was mentioned several times with no mention of any women’s rights organisation. “I was under the impression that the swimming day was about women,” says Helen. “They have turned it into a day about rainbow inclusion regardless of how women feel their rights have been disregarded.” Over 500 women sought help through women’s refuge last year and many of these women are those who are attracted to women-only swim days and women’s gyms for the very reason of not wanting to see a male’s body parts. How dare CCC put children and vulnerable women in this position increasing them to relive past trauma.

New Conservative opposes any redefinition of women and draws attention to the victory of the recent court ruling in Scotland where the judge stated, “that the protected characteristic of sex refers to either a male or a female and that provisions in favour of women must, by definition, exclude those who are biologically male.” See full 2022csih4.pdf (scotcourts.gov.uk).

The policies of CCC while promoting inclusion fail to show equity which is also listed on their website. How is this equity to women when CCC shows bias in favour of a minority group who self-identify as female, and against the wider population of women accessing this swimming day who oppose this extreme and strange view of what a woman is? Their website also displays one of their principles as ‘being open transparent and openly democratically accountable.’ To date, democratic debate and input have not been offered to the wider population of women using the pool. 

Nowhere in the rights for women does it or should it say women must accommodate trans women in women’s spaces. Simply stating that you are a woman does not make it true.

Katrina Biggs, one of the women challenging CCC, requested that, “The women-only session needs to be clearly labeled upfront on the pool’s website, and on any other public information, with “includes trans women and people who identify as being women.” This shouldn’t be buried in the website, or not made clear when promoting the so-called women-only sessions. It would also be good to include the information there about the two privately run truly women-only sessions elsewhere as another option for women.” This is one of the requests the women agreed upon in discussion with the above-mentioned CCC representatives.

“We consider this to be an important amendment to how the women-only sessions are advertised and promoted, irrespective of any other measures taken,” said Biggs.

“New Conservative, in agreement with the Scottish courts, believes that sex is significant in law and that women’s concerns about the undermining of this protected characteristic are valid,” says Helen Houghton, Co-leader New Conservative.