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Disability-assist dog Bill to have first reading in NZ Parliament

Parliament of New Zealand in Wellington city
Photo: Dreamstime

After being delayed due to lockdown, Ricardo Menéndez March’s Members Bill to ensure that New Zealanders do not face discrimination for having a disability assist dog will have its first reading in Parliament today.

“The law in New Zealand should unequivocally support disabled people to live fulfilling lives – I hope to receive full support for this Bill across the Parliament as it makes its way into law,” says Menéndez March.

The Human Rights (Disability Assist Dogs Non-Discrimination) Amendment Bill explicitly states that a person cannot be a denied a service – such as a home or transport – simply because they have a disability assist dog.

“Discrimination against assistance dogs is effectively discrimination against disabled people, and we need to change the law to ensure a fully inclusive, accessible Aotearoa.

“I inherited this bill from former MP Mojo Mathers, who was determined to build a more inclusive Aotearoa after hearing stories of people being denied rental accommodation simply because they have a disability assist dog.

“No one in this country should have their rental application turned down because they have an assist dog that makes their life easier and more fulfilling.”

Current Co-convenor of the Inclusive Greens, Joe Boon, says his mobility dog Shelby is an important part of his life: “I look forward to a future where people like me can feel safe in knowing no one can discriminate against them because of their dog.”

“I would like to acknowledge Mojo for paving the way for this long overdue change in the law and to thank Ricardo for championing it in this Parliament. MPs now have a chance to make sure that having a disability assist dog does not prevent people like me living the lives we want – making it fundamental part of our human rights law,” says Boon.

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