Hate speech legislation on hold till after election

hate speech

A proposal that could make hate speech a criminal offence has been stalled and is unlikely to pass before the election.

The Government fast-tracked a review of hate speech legislation in the wake of the March 15 Christchurch terror attack last year.

Justice Minister Andrew Little declared existing legislation on the issue “woefully inadequate.”

Following a Human Rights commission review, presented in December last year, the Justice Ministry and Human Rights Commission presented Little with options.

In March, he said these were “working their way through” the cabinet process, and that he expected an announcement within weeks.

But on Tuesday, he told Stuff Labour was still in talks with its government partners and confirmed the legislation would likely not go to Cabinet until after the election.

Some NZ First MPs claim the party is yet to see any policy and indicated it was unlikely to support the law.

A survey conducted by Netsafe in 2019  found that:

  • Three-quarters of respondents would support new legislation to stop online hate
  • A similar proportion considers that more than that is needed to prevent its spread
  •  8 in 10, believe that everyone has a role to play in addressing hateful speech
  • More than half disagreed with the idea that people should be entitled to say whatever they want online. A quarter do not have a an opinion

The Human Rights Commission thinks the term hate speech can be misleading.

In a report presented the government in December 2019  they say it is often used loosely and pejoratively to imply a moral breach and is directed at the speech or expression itself.

“However, hate speech laws are not intended to protect people from offence or to suppress ideas.

They are targeted at the effect that the expression has on the minds of third parties.”


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News category: New Zealand.

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