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Hate Speech is Bad Law

17th March 2005

Hate Speech is Bad Law

International experience shows hate speech legislation is bad law. After Christian Heritage NZ presented its submission to the select committee considering whether our country needs such legislation, CHNZ leader Ewen McQueen said “International experience shows that hate speech legislation invariably leads to decent law abiding citizens being dragged before the courts, simply for expressing valid political or religious opinions.

That clearly shows it is bad law and we don’t need to go down that road in New Zealand.” Hamilton based solicitor David Simpkin presented the CHNZ submission to the Government Administration Select Committee.

The submission noted cases in Australia and Sweden where pastors were brought before courts under hate speech legislation. He also tabled a recent paper by Patrick Parkinson a professor of law at Sydney University which examined the experience with vilification laws in various states in Australia.

In that paper that Professor Parkinson noted the serious damage that these laws had done to social harmony in that country by actually exacerbating conflicts rather than engendering tolerance. Professor Parkinson commented “ The power to bring a complaint to a state body, albeit one which proceeds first by means of conciliation, can exacerbate conflict by giving it a forum in which a battle can be fought out ”

(Enforcing Religious Tolerance: religious Vilification Laws in Australia, paper by Professor Patrick Parkinson for the Annual International Law and Religion Symposium, October 2004)

Christian Heritage NZ leader Ewen McQueen noted that there are already safeguards in New Zealand law against what most New Zealanders would consider inappropriate and dangerous public statements. These included existing defamation laws and Sections 61 and 131 of the Human Rights Act which dealt with inciting ill-will or hostility against groups of persons on the ground of their race, ethnicity or national origin.

McQueen stated, “These laws are more than adequate to deal with the sort of conduct that most reasonable New Zealanders would consider unacceptable. Anti-semitic and racist statements for example are covered by these laws and there have been successful prosecutions in our country involving such conduct. We don’t need any additional legislation. ”


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