Hate speech laws: National, ACT still won’t support government’s watered-down proposals
“We’ve supported them on gun laws and a whole bunch of stuff, but we’ve always expressed concern about the hate speech proposals because we’re very concerned about maintaining freedom of speech.”
The government’s plan to create new hate speech laws was part of a response to the Royal Commission into the 2019 Christchurch terror attack. They were supposed to be ready much sooner but were delayed due to confusion and “strong reactions”, causing the government to redesign them.
Currently, under human rights law, it is illegal to publish or broadcast threatening, abusive or insulting language that is likely to “excite hostility against” or “bring contempt to” any group because of their colour, race, ethnic or national origin. The proposed changes would extend this to cover religious beliefs.
In a statement Saturday, after Allan announced the proposals, Seymour said they were still not “consistent with a free and open society and ACT will repeal them.”
“Preventing freedom of expression on religious grounds is an important restriction. It is important that we are allowed to report instances of religious persecution without fear of prosecution.
“Free speech is one of our society’s most important values. We can only solve our most pressing problems in an open society in which freedom of thought and open inquiry are encouraged.”
Allan said on Saturday that the new proposals seek to strike a balance between protecting vulnerable communities and the right to free speech.
“These are small amendments which the Royal Commission believes will be of great benefit to our religious communities.”
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