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Good Bye to the Crime of Blasphemy

8 July 2008

For immediate release


Good Bye to the Crime of Blasphemy

From July 8th blasphemy will no longer be a crime in Britain. The NZ Association of Rationalists and Humanists recommends that New Zealand follows Britain’s example by removing of the crime of blasphemous libel from its law books.

The Association’s president Andrew Geard said today that "The crime of blasphemous libel gives religious doctrine special protection that other ideas and beliefs don’t have. This is clearly inconsistent with New Zealand’s Human Rights Act which outlaws discrimination based on religious belief."

The only recorded prosecution for blasphemous libel in New Zealand occurred in 1922 and was unsuccessful. Attempts to prosecute Te Papa for the Virgin in a Condom artwork in 1998 and CanWest for the "Bloody Mary" episode of the South Park TV show in 2006 were blocked by the Solicitor-General.

"There is no guarantee that the law won’t be used in the future against writers, artists, comedians, cartoonists, and other people who challenge people's beliefs and make them think about current social issues. What is ironic is that many of the religious teachings that the blasphemy law today protects were once considered blasphemous. While blasphemous libel remains in the Crimes Act it continues to be a threat to freedom of speech."

The NZ Association of Rationalists and Humanists has been serving New Zealand's non-religious community since 1927.


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