An update on the campaign situation is now long overdue! This post is to update you all with where we’re at. Apologies that it has taken so long, but as you’ll hear, these things take their time.
As followers of our campaign will know, in late 2009 we hit a roadblock when NZ Bus denied us the chance to put ads that questioned belief in god on the sides of their buses. To quickly recap these events, this is what happened…
In December 2009 we were going through the process of organising bus advertising on NZ Bus buses through the agency that handles their advertising. Following initial informal agreement, and once we reached the stage of organising specific details of the campaign, we received unexpected news from NZ Bus via their ad agency. They basically said no, we wont run the ads.
This decision appeared to us to be a case of discrimination under the Human Rights Act 1993. The act states clearly that businesses are unable to discriminate in the provision of services based on certain grounds of discrimination. One of the grounds of discrimination is “ethical belief, which means the lack of a religious belief, whether in respect of a particular religion or religions or all religions.”
In response to NZ Bus’ decision we lodged a formal complaint with the Human Rights Commission (HRC). The first step in the formal process for complaints is for the HRC to try and resolve the issue with mediation between the two parties. However we didn’t get very far with this option with NZ Bus.
The next step available to us in the complaints process was to take our case to the Human Rights Review Tribunal. This now becomes a more formal legal process in that the Tribunal is able to enforce the law to prohibit companies from discriminating. Of course, taking a case to the Tribunal requires legal representation, which as expected is a costly endeavor. There is yet another organisation, the Office of Human Rights Proceedings that provides legal representation and covers all associated costs involved with bringing a case to the Tribunal. They don’t just do this for anyone however – there is a process whereby they assess the worth of cases in terms of legal value and chance of success among other criteria.
We are very pleased to report that the Office agreed to take on our case against NZ Bus. This is a huge win as without their support, it is unlikely we would have found the resources required to represent ourselves.
Now, we must wait. Tribunal cases take a long time, and proceedings are not expected to begin until 2012 at the earliest.
I wish to thank again everyone who donated initially for the bus ads and also for the later billboard campaign. Your support is very, very much appreciated! We still have a pot of money stowed away for a bus ad campaign if/when the ruling is returned in our favour.