Andrew Little hits back at David Seymour's criticism of hate speech proposals

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Sun, 27 Sep 2020, 4:45PM
David Seymour. (Photo / NZ Herald)

Andrew Little hits back at David Seymour's criticism of hate speech proposals

Author
Newstalk ZB,
Publish Date
Sun, 27 Sep 2020, 4:45PM

Labour leader Jacinda Ardern wants to make it illegal to discriminate on the grounds of someone's religion as well as possibly sexual orientation or disability.

Her commitment follows a visit to Al Noor Mosque in Christchurch today where Imam Gamal Fouda made an impassioned plea for stronger political leadership around hate speech laws.

The Government has been reviewing hate speech in the aftermath of the March 15 attacks, and NZ First is thought to be why nothing has changed.

Justice Minister Andrew Little told The Weekend Collective that there are already laws around hate speech that are around race and ethnicity, including the Human Rights Act and the Harmful Digital Communications Act.

"The problem with the law is that it criminalises conduct in relation to inciting hostility to others on the grounds of race but not on any other grounds, including religion."

Little says that provisions such as Incite to Violence only apply to abuse targetted at specific people, rather than wider groups. 

He says that freedom of speech is there to protect minorities and those who speak up against those in power. 

"It's not there to protect against those who want to threaten and intimidate others because of who they are."

The proposed move has prompted criticism from ACT leader David Seymour.

He told The Weekend Collective that they don't want a Government department to decide what people can and can't decide. 

"No matter how they try and dress it up, that's the only way it can work."

Seymour says that this is legislating against offence, which he says it will led to high-level censorship. 

He says that the current provisions on defending race against hate speech have not worked properly for several decades.

Prior to Seymour coming on the show, Little told The Weekend Collective that Seymour is a smart enough guy to know there should be limits and they can be well-defined. 

"He's got to explain why it is that it's a criminal offence to say 'let's kill at the Māoris' but it's not a criminal offence to say 'let's kill all the Jews and the Muslins'. And if his defence to that is to say 'we should be allowed to say let's all the Māoris', then that's on him."

Little says that there are no plans to make it illegal to be offended. 

;