Concerns raised over protection from hate speech in NZ’s legislation

The NZ Herald has published an article about New Zealand's lack of laws against hate speech.

Police and the Ministry of Justice are considering new ways of recording crimes in an effort to combat racism. But concerns have been raised over suppressing New Zealanders' right to free speech.

Unlike in the UK, hate crime is not a specific offence in New Zealand. They are coded under existing crime categories but police have started consulting with community leaders to consider the pros and cons of recording the data separately.

A spokesperson for the Human Rights Commission:

Freedom of speech and expression are really important human rights. But most rights are not absolute and we also have to remember that with rights come responsibilities.

We need to make sure our laws strike the right balance between protecting the right to freedom of speech and appropriately ensuring that we protect the right to personal security and safety so that people do not suffer actual harm.

Thomas Beagle, Chairperson of the NZ Council for Civil Liberties:

But civil liberties advocate Thomas Beagle said sometimes democracy could be painful and any new hate speech laws should promote more and better speech rather than suppress it.

Beagle, the chairperson for the New Zealand Council for Civil Liberties, said freedom of expression should improve communication and ideas, "not just ensure that we can all shout abuse at each other".

Labour MP Louisa Wall:

I actually think we need a duty of care law added to the Bill of Rights. A duty of care would place a legal obligation on a newspaper for example or an individual [such as] a professional sports star requiring adherence to a standard of reasonable care while performing any acts that could foreseeably harm others.