Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has confirmed he’s postponed any changes in legislation addressing hate speech and discrimination in Aotearoa.
The Prime Minister’s decision was amid a wide range of changes in policy from the Labour Party following the resignation of Jacinda Ardern.
It followed last year’s announcement by Justice Minister Kiri Allan that changes to hate speech laws were be watered down to incitement against religious groups and not Rainbow communities to avoid ‘further harm’.
“This will allow the Law Commission the opportunity to consider a difficult and highly contested area of law in totality,” Prime Minister Hipkins said today, confirming the postponement.
“The Law Commission’s got a good track record on developing guidance on difficult issues and often in the past helped to generate cross-party support for those issues, and that’s what we hope to achieve here.”
Hipkins also added that the hate speech changes would be contentious. While the government has stated that it remains committed to addressing hate speech and discrimination, it has decided to take a different approach that does not involve new laws or amendments to existing legislation. Instead, it has emphasised the importance of promoting positive values and attitudes, while working with communities to address hate speech and discrimination through education and awareness-raising initiatives.
“I would rather we took a step back and tried to reach that political consensus that we have been able to reach on issues that the Law Commission has considered in the past.”
“Anyone who’s read the Royal Commission report following March 15, would have to acknowledge that there are some very legitimate issues that have been raised, but I don’t want to have them mired in a debate which is going nowhere, which frankly, is where the debate has been going.”
The announcement has been criticised by LGBTQ+ community groups, who argue that changes to legislation are needed to ensure the rainbow community is protected from hate speech and discrimination.