Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 

Humanists call for strengthening of free speech

New Zealand Humanists, Secularists and Atheists call for strengthening of free speech in wake of Charlie Hebdo terror attack


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

New Zealand – The Humanist Society of New Zealand and the New Zealand Association of Rationalists and Humanists are calling on politicians to repeal New Zealand’s Blasphemy Law. The terror attacks on Charlie Hebdo offices have highlighted the need to overtly emphasise the value that New Zealanders have for free thought and speech.

New Zealand’s anachronistic Blasphemy Law was adapted from the common law of the United Kingdom where it has since been abolished. This law has never resulted in a successful prosecution in New Zealand and the only attempt to use the law back in 1922 was unsuccessful. This law is a black mark against New Zealand in the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU) annual report - Freedom of Thought: A Global Report on the Rights, Legal Status, and Discrimination against Humanists, Atheists and the Non-religious[1], qualifying New Zealand for the category of ‘Severe Discrimination’.

The violent response in Paris to the non-violent ideas expressed by the Charlie Hebdo magazine underscores that freedom of expression is a core ingredient of a democratic society. Mark Honeychurch, President of the Humanist Society of New Zealand, considers that repealing Section 123 of the Crimes Act would be “a symbolic gesture that sends a clear message that New Zealand values free speech. Given New Zealand now has a seat on the United Nations Security Council, repealing this relic of a law would give New Zealand the ability to criticise blasphemy laws in other countries without being seen as hypocritical.”

John Murphy, President of the New Zealand Association of Rationalists and Humanists, is critical of the special privilege that the law gives to religious ideas: “In an open and tolerant society, all ideas need to be able to be criticised and satirised. The law currently provides special protection for religious ideas and leaves the prosecution of such cases at the whim of the Attorney General of the day. We must not assume that future Attorneys General cannot be pressured into allowing prosecutions to proceed.”

Murphy states: “Given the recent acts of terrorism that are partly justified on the basis of blasphemy, it is time to remove this law from our statutes. Our human rights legislation already balances the right to free speech, against the need for freedom from discrimination and hate speech, and does so across all forms of belief, thus rendering the Blasphemy Law redundant.”

Murphy says: “As with other anachronistic sections of the 1961 Crimes Act, such as the sections (now repealed) that criminalized homosexual acts, the Blasphemy Law reflects prejudices and stigma that are largely consigned to a previous era and are now objectionable to the vast majority of New Zealanders.”

The Humanist Society of New Zealand (Inc) is an organisation that promotes humanist philosophy and ideals. It meets in Wellington with members throughout New Zealand, and is affiliated internationally to the IHEU and the United Nations Association of NZ.

The New Zealand Association of Rationalists and Humanists (Inc) is a not-for-profit organisation that exists to serve the interests of the non-religious: those who do not have a belief in gods or the supernatural.

[1] Available from http://freethoughtreport.com/

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The Ch-Ch-Changes At IRD

job cuts aren’t happening at the IRD, exactly. Instead, there’s apparently a ‘transformation’ in store, and jobs won’t be axed ; no, they will be ‘transformed’ before our eyes into… non-jobs, if you happen to be among the unlucky legion of 1,900 who are being lined up for transformation, which seems to work rather like a secular version of the Rapture.

Except that at IRD, not even your shoes will be left behind. More>>

 

Christchurch Mental Health: Hospital Too 'Awful' For Reviewers To Visit

Jonathan Coleman has to stop the stalling over a new building for mental health services in Christchurch to replace the quake damaged Princess Margaret Hospital, says Labour’s Health spokesperson David Clark... More>>

ALSO:

Greens Call For Govt Action: Children Sick Because Of NZ Housing

The Royal Australasian College of Physicians president-elect said today that children with preventable respiratory illnesses are being re-admitted to hospital because they're being sent back to cold, damp homes. More>>

ALSO:

Less Tax Cut, More Spending: Labour Launches Fiscal Plan

“Labour will invest $8 billion more in health, $4 billion more in education and $5 billion more for Kiwi families through Working for Families, Best Start and the Winter Energy Payment than the Budget 2017 projections for the forecast period.” More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Greens’ Room For Political Pragmatism

The Greens here are currently being criticized by the commentariat for not making the same kind of pragmatic choices that sunk the Democrats in Australia. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Being Humane About Welfare, Child Support, And Tax

It made for an unusual Venn diagram, but Greens co-leader Metiria Turei and Finance Minister Steven Joyce were briefly sharing some common elements this week in the set that says – hey, don’t use the powers of the state in ways guaranteed to make the system you’re trying to defend worse, not better. More>>

ALSO:

 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

Featured InfoPages

Opening the Election