Wellingtonian of the year under fire

Employment lawyer Steph Dyhrberg, was named Wellingtonian of the Year for 2018.

2018 Wellingtonian of the year, Steph Dyhrberg, has had a complaint made against her to the Law Society. She allegedly called the group Speak Up For Women “whores” in an expletive-laden rant on Social media.

Her comments were part of the emotive online debate about the controversial sex self-identification clauses within the Births, Deaths, Marriages and Relationships Registration Bill. quote.

Speak Up For Women, the group who Ms Dyhrberg?s comments were in reference to, is campaigning for wider public consultation over the Bill which, if enacted, will enable people to obtain a birth certificate in the opposite sex, by completing a statutory declaration that they ?identify? as a member of that sex. The group has concerns about the impact on women?s rights, including in relation to women?s prisons, refuges, and sports. end quote.

Ms Dyhrberg won the accolade of Wellingtonian of the Year for speaking up about the culture of sexual harassment in the legal profession. Her comments to the Speak Up For Women group included telling them to ?take up knitting,? and to ?get a decent hobby? quote.

[…] In just over a month Ms Dyhrberg will be a keynote speaker at Minister for Women Hon Julie Anne Genter?s International Women?s Day Breakfast. She will speak alongside Prime Minister Ardern.

Ani O?Brien, Speak Up For Women spokesperson, says: ?As a lawyer Ms Dyhrberg could engage with our primary concern about the lack of legal clarity on how sex self-ID will impact women?s protections enshrined in the Human Rights Act. Instead, she?s chosen to launch this shocking attack. It is unacceptable for anyone to abuse and intimidate women, but for a senior lawyer who has been given the honour of speaking at the International Women?s Day event at Parliament to refer to women participating in democracy as ?whores? is extremely disappointing, and unprofessional.? end quote.

This is not the first time that the group have met with hostility. Labour MP Louisa Wall called them ?fucking TERFs? at a Pride Hui late last year. quote.

?Women in positions of power and with larger incomes may find it difficult to empathise with the concerns and struggles of women who are more vulnerable to being impacted by these amendments,? says Ms O?Brien, ?for example, they are unlikely to find themselves sharing intimate spaces in prison or a shelter with a natal male self-identifying as a woman.?

Ms O?Brien says: ?the use of slurs and insults, like Ms Dyhrberg?s, has a chilling effect. We need a respectful debate if we are to have laws that balance the rights of everyone.?

Speak Up For Women end quote.