New Zealand Free Speech - Hate vs Criticism

The New Zealand government has announced that it will amend its Human Rights Act to give religious groups protection from hate speech. The planned amendment is a reaction to the horrific 2019 Christchurch mosque attacks. Hate speech is a real problem and I applaud the aim of protecting NZ religious communities from it. I’m also a firm believer in freedom of religion. However, I see this planned amendment as overreach. I’ve included my brief analysis below and I’d appreciate feedback.

The following article detailing the proposed change appeared on the New Zealand news website Stuff:

The Stuff article referenced above includes:

Minister of Justice Kiri Allan said under the Human Rights Act 1993 it was already illegal to publish or distribute threatening, abusive, or insulting words likely to “excite hostility against” or “bring into contempt” any group on the grounds of colour, race, ethnic or national origins.

“Those grounds will now be extended, in both the civil and criminal provisions, to cover religious belief.”

So, the minimum requirements for breaching the amended act would be to publish or distribute words that were both insulting and likely to bring into contempt a group (in this case a religious group). The Cambridge Dictionary ( says that insulting can mean offensive i.e. “causing offence” and offence can mean “upset and hurt or annoyed feelings, often because someone has been rude or shown no respect”. A key takeaway from these definitions is that what is insulting or offensive is determined by the receiver independently of whether the words in question are reasonable, well intended or factually correct. From the same dictionary, contempt can mean “a strong feeling of lack of respect for someone or something”. So, it appears this act can be breached by publishing or distributing words that (a) annoy a group with a religious belief and (b) are likely to cause others to strongly lack respect for that group. I’m not a lawyer, but this seems a very low bar for hate speech. A bar that would include polite constructive criticism that is overwhelmingly backed by evidence and reason. I could see this amendment resulting in court cases against Charles Darwin’s ‘On the Origin of Species’ and Richard Dawkins’ ‘The God Delusion’.

Have I made some logical blunder here or is this amendment a potential disaster for free speech and reason?

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NZ govt is working with tech giants to hide sources that they claim to be extremists and give a tick pf approval to sources they claim to be “authoritative”

And yet again the west want you to believe they are better than china and russia

So you say, Russianguy0. Sounds like Russian propaganda, straight from the Russian Propaganda Machine.

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What are you talking about? What does this have to do with this opening post? What’s a “tick pf”? How does any of this translate to what one believes about cultures or countries?

Are you a real person?

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It is overreach without a doubt. The boundaries of free speech are always somewhat arbitrary, but this amounts to making boundaries useless.

I fully agree to this statement. Such a rule is a potential disaster for freedom of speech. And the potential will become a reality as it reinstates the infraction of blasphemy.

Yes, you have made a logical blunder. Free speech does not allow hate speech, which is designed only to incite “hate”. There is no such thing as “free hate speech”, just as there is no free speech in yelling “fire” in a crowded theatre and there is no fire. There is no such thing as “free terrorist speech”.

So you either need to rethink your understanding of free speech or go to a hate speech website where you will be considered a threat to a free society.

I fully agree.

But to take an exemple, imagine that some one i make a movie explaining that the christ was a man, with sexual needs.

Imagine that some Christians declare that this movie is offending them and is insulting them.

Which will win between the free speech rule and the anti hate law ?

[The Last Temptation of Christ (film) - Wikipedia]

French law is simple: Hate speechs and acts are forbidden against people, and everything is allowed against ideas and doctrines.

I may say that such a doctrine is s…t, I may not say the same about the followers of the said doctrine.

Where did you incite hate in your explanation that Christ was a human with sexual needs?

On the contrary, it would be those Christians that accused you of offending them , who are engaged in hate speech.

Allow me to illustrate;

The 1578 edition of the Directorium Inquisitorum (a standard Inquisitorial manual) spelled out the purpose of inquisitorial penalties: … quoniam punitio non refertur primo & per se in correctinum & bonum eius qui punitur, sed in bonum publicum ut alij terreantur, & a malis committendis avocentur (translation: “… for punishment does not take place primarily and per se for the correction and good of the person punished, but for the public good in order that others may become terrified and weaned away from the evils they would commit”).

Note the specific mention of intent to “terrify”!

Its determined by the receiver (the christians in this case) not you. That what Ian has pointed out and you missed

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I did not miss that at all.
Since when do Christians have the authority to say what is hate-speech?

Hate-speech is that which incites hate in the listener, such as declaring that homosexuals are child abusers, whereas heterosexuals are just as prone to child abuse.

Facts About Homosexuality and Child Molestation

In recent years, antigay activists have routinely asserted that gay people are child molesters. This argument was often made in debates about the Boy Scouts of America’s policy to exclude gay scouts and scoutmasters. More recently, in the wake of Rep. Mark Foley’s resignation from the US House of Representatives in 2006, antigay activists and their supporters seized on the scandal to revive this canard.

It has also been raised in connection with scandals about the Catholic church’s attempts to cover up the abuse of young males by priests. Indeed, the Vatican’s early response to the 2002 revelations of widespread Church cover-ups of sexual abuse by priests was to declare that gay men should not be ordained.

more… Facts About Homosexuality and Child Molestation

The law is wriiten about the group affected by the speech. Its got nothing to do with christian having a right. You have badly misunderstood what is being conveyed - again

No, actually the Xian Reich do make laws and want a society similar to that of the Muslim nations. They have recently started with abortion.

I am afraid that it is you who does not understand the definition of hate-speech.

Let me clarify it for you.

Hate speech versus freedom of speech

Alongside the relevant international human rights law provisions, the UN Rabat Plan of Action) provides key guidance to States on the difference between freedom of expression and “incitement” (to discrimination, hostility and violence), which is prohibited under criminal law.
Hate speech versus freedom of speech | United Nations

Hate speech

Hate speech is defined by the Cambridge Dictionary as “public speech that expresses hate or encourages violence towards a person or group based on something such as race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation”.[1]

Hate speech is “usually thought to include communications of animosity or disparagement of an individual or a group on account of a group characteristic such as race, colour, national origin, sex, disability, religion, or sexual orientation”.[2] Legal definitions of hate speech vary from country to country.
Hate speech - Wikipedia

I don’t think the definition you quote here matches the law. A precedent needs to be set or challenged before we really know

As others have pointed out here, a key problem with the proposed amendment to the NZ Human Rights Act is the wording which includes more than just hate. But that isn’t the only problem. The Taliban’s extreme religious beliefs lead them to brutally oppress women. Surely expressing and encouraging hate is an appropriate and reasonable response in cases like that. Not according to the proposed act.

But back to the wording of the amendment. It has serious issues. I’ll briefly repeat some analysis for clarity. I’m not a lawyer, but based on the proposed wording of the amendment, to breach the proposed act it is only necessary for words to be insulting to a group and be likely to bring that group into contempt based on their religious beliefs. So, if someone was to promote women’s rights, that would definitely be insulting to the Taliban. Insult, after all, is about the reaction of the receiver and is independent of whether the message is polite, well intended, reasonable or even factual. And if the women’s rights promotion reached Afghanistan and was effective then for some receivers it would be likely to bring the Taliban into contempt. So, promotion of women’s rights could breach the NZ Human Rights Act! Obviously, this would never be a problem in law because women’s rights in NZ will be well protected elsewhere. But the example demonstrates the potential for the proposed amendment, with its current wording, to be breached by the most reasonable and even factual communications because of the most ridiculous or extreme religious beliefs.