The Human Rights Commission welcomes the Ministry of Justice’s public consultation on the laws governing hate speech.
The Commission encourages all New Zealanders to participate in the consultation and have their say on the balance between the right to freedom of speech and the right to be safe and free from discrimination.
In making the announcement, the Ministry on Friday published Proposals against incitement of hatred and discrimination which proposes reforms designed to increase protection against incitement to hatred and hostility, and provide clarity over what the law prohibits. The Ministry is seeking public feedback from the public on the proposals until 6th August 2021.
"Changes to our hate speech law in New Zealand need a respectful and informed discussion that carefully considers whether our current legal framework is fit for purpose and reflects our commitment to social inclusion while balancing freedom of expression," said Chief Human Rights Commissioner Paul Hunt.
"We encourage all New Zealanders with an interest in these reforms to consider the Ministry’s proposals and contribute their views.”
The Government announced a review of the laws governing hate speech following the attacks on two Christchurch masjidain on 15th March 2019. In addition, the Royal Commission of Inquiry report into the attack, published in December 2020, made a number of recommendations to improve New Zealand’s existing laws relating to hate crime and hate speech.
“Social inclusion means everyone has an equal opportunity to participate fully in society. The terrorist attacks against Christchurch Masjidain on 15th March 2019 and the subsequent Royal Commission of Inquiry has brought this conversation to the forefront. It's important the affected whānau, survivors and witnesses are fully engaged in this consultation", said Hunt.
"We encourage the government to consult collaboratively and widely with an accessible process."
The Commission will participate in the consultation and subsequently publish its submission on the proposals put forward by the Ministry.
In December 2019 the Commission published a resource on the legal framework governing hate speech - Korero Whakamauāhara: Hate Speech. The resource includes definitions of hate speech and outlines the legal framework in New Zealand and overseas.