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Free Speech Union Welcomes Government’s Early Steps To Defend Free Speech

Policy objectives announced today by the Incoming-Government will strengthen free speech in New Zealand. The Free Speech Union welcomes these early steps to once again protect free speech as the foundation of our human rights framework, says Jonathan Ayling, Chief Executive of the Free Speech Union.

"The commitment to protect freedom of speech by ruling out the introduction of hate speech legislation and stopping the Law Commission’s work on hate speech legislation is a fitting conclusion to our long-running campaign to prevent hate speech law reform.

"Criminalising words that some may find offensive has never been the appropriate way to fix the underlying issues at play. Such laws are often used against the very minority communities they seek to protect.

"The final burial of these nonsense laws is a big win for free speech.

"Universities and academics have long held the position as society’s critic and conscience. They must be free to debate controversial issues, even if some find the ideas being debated viscerally unpleasant or even 'harmful'.

"We welcome the proposed amendment to the Education and Training Act such that tertiary education providers receiving taxpayer funding must commit to a free speech policy in order to maintain this status.

"Throwing out the proposed hate speech laws and strengthening free speech in tertiary education are major wins for all Kiwis who care about the basic freedom to speak freely.

"We remain committed to our principles of non-partisanship and will remain vocal critics and opponents of any who oppose free speech, especially the Government. Likewise, we look forward to working closely with all who seek to protect and expand free speech in New Zealand."

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