Queering the Courts
Takatāpui/LGBTQ+/queer people can face increased victimisation (Ministry of Justice, 2022b) and criminalisation (Mogul, Ritchie, & Whitlock, 2011), although the literature is still developing in New Zealand. As discussions around justice and awareness of LGBTQ+/queer issues grow, now is an opportune time to examine the experiences of takatāpui/LGBTQ+/queer people in New Zealand’s District Courts. This thesis explores the experiences of takatāpui/LGBTQ+/queer people accessing justice as defendants and victims in New Zealand’s Courts. It also investigates how structures and institutions, such as justice systems, patriarchy, and gender in New Zealand, shape the experience of takatāpui/LGBTQ+/queer people accessing justice as defendants and victims in New Zealand’s Courts. Using qualitative research methods, this study takes a critical realist constructionist view of the participants' perceptions of the justice system and their experiences accessing justice. The data and literature are critically assessed through queer and critical theory frameworks. The participant experiences are viewed alongside the key themes of access to justice, intersectionality, and stigma. This study finds that the experience of accessing justice in New Zealand spans more than just the court experience, including how the cisheteropatriarchy and other social structures may be institutionalised within formal justice systems, such as the Courts, Judiciary, Police, and the legal profession. These legal institutions, and the professionals within them, are shown to influence the experience of accessing justice for the study participants. Importantly, some participants noted that adverse experiences in court could lead to hesitancy to access justice in the future. The experiences presented in this thesis suggest that justice institutions, specifically the New Zealand District Court, may create obstacles for takatāpui/LGBTQ+/queer people accessing justice.