New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern resigns, leaving an LGBTQ+ legacy most leaders would dream of

Jacinda Ardern is pictured standing at a podium speaking wearing a grey suit. The background is an edited pink one to show her LGBTQ+ support.

LGBTQ+ ally Jacinda Ardern has resigned as prime minister of New Zealand, saying she no longer had “enough in the tank” to do the job.

Ardern announced her resignation at Labour’s annual caucus on Thursday (19 January), telling her party colleagues: “I am human, politicians are human. We give all the we can for as long as we can. And then it’s time.”

She described her time as prime minister as “the most fulfilling five and a half years” of her life and said she hopes New Zealanders remember her as “someone who always tried to be kind”.

“I hope I leave New Zealanders with a belief that you can be kind, but strong, empathetic but decisive, optimistic but focused. And that you can be your own kind of leader – one who knows when it’s time to go,” Ardern said.

Throughout her time as prime minister, Ardern advanced LGBTQ+ rights in New Zealand and showed empathy to the country’s queer community at every turn.

In 2018, Ardern became the first New Zealand prime minister to march at Pride.

You may like to watch

In 2020, Ardern’s Labour Party pledged to ban conversion therapy. In February 2022, the Conversion Practices Prohibition Legislation Act received royal assent, ensuring practitioners of the pseudoscientific and harmful practice would face repercussions.

Jacinda Ardern speaks to the media at the reception for the first Trans-Tasman bubble flight from Australia to Wellington on April 19, 2021.
Jacinda Ardern speaks to the media at the reception for the first Trans-Tasman bubble flight from Australia to Wellington on April 19, 2021. (Mark Tantrum/Getty)

At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ardern appointed Grant Robertson as deputy prime minister, making him the first openly gay person to hold the role. At that time, New Zealand’s cabinet was among the queerest in the world.

She also displayed kindness and empathy to the LGBTQ+ community during her time as prime minister. Ardern was quick to rush to the defence of Olympic weightlifter Laurel Hubbard in 2021 when she was selected for the country’s Tokyo team, a move that won praise from queer people at a time when many politicians were weaponising trans inclusion in sport.

That same year, New Zealand passed vital reforms to its gender recognition laws. The bill allowed trans people to self-declare their own gender and removed the requirement for medical intervention for a person to change their legal gender.

Tributes pour in for Jacinda Ardern

In the hours after Jacinda Ardern announced her resignation, tributes flooded in on social media, with many praising her for inspiring women and girls and for standing up for the most marginalised in society.

Others drew attention to the relentless misogynistic abuse she faced on social media throughout her time as prime minister.

Ardern’s time as prime minister will end no later than 7 February, however she will continue to serve as an MP until the next general election, which is due to take place in October.