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‘Hate speech’ laws threaten freedom and democracy

17 March 2005

‘Hate speech’ laws threaten freedom and democracy

Maxim Institute today warned the Government Administration committee inquiry that so called ‘hate speech’ laws are totally unnecessary and threaten freedom of expression and the democratic process.

“Further legislation to prohibit ‘hate speech’ is not warranted and would be an unjustified limitation on the rights of free thought, free expression, and freedom to practice religion which are expressly affirmed by the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990,” said Maxim’s legal counsel, Nicki Taylor.

“Existing legislation already provides adequate restraint on speech and publication so there is no need for any more laws. The inquiry is considering a solution that is looking for a problem,” said Mrs Taylor.

Maxim Institute submitted that any new restrictions on ‘hate speech’ would be an unconstitutional use of Parliament’s power.

“The inevitable consequence of this sort of legislation is a reduction in freedom of expression which violates our Bill of Rights. Once a legislature begins to restrict fundamental rights and freedoms on a legally undefined and unsupported basis, it puts itself in a dangerous position,” said Nicki Taylor.

Maxim submitted that group protection which restricts the freedom of expression limits the ability of all citizens to participate equally in the democratic process.

“Political discourse would be severely limited, no longer would we all be equal before the law and democracy is ultimately undermined. ‘Hate speech’ laws make the government of the day the arbiter of what is right and wrong and would shut down political dissent.”

“The inquiry should quickly conclude that new laws are not needed,” said Nicki Taylor

ENDS

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