Government Has Yet To Explain Why Hate Speech Legislation Has Been Abandoned – FIANZ


FIANZ, the national Muslim umbrella organisation, is requesting an explanation from the Minister of Justice, Hon. Paul Goldsmith as to why the hate speech legislation has been abandoned.

The 2023 Coalition Agreement refers to “protecting freedom of speech by ruling out the introduction of hate speech legislation and stop the Law Commission’s work on hate speech legislation.” Yet there seems to a fundamental lack of clarity in the above statement , given that NZ already have five statutes that impose liability or provide remedies for hate speech. They include :

  • Human Rights Act 1993;
  • Summary Offences Act 1981;
  • Harmful Digital Communications Act 2015;
  • Broadcasting Act 1984; and
  • Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993.

In simplest terms the Royal Commission Recommendation refers to the inclusion of ’religious belief ’ as a protected characteristic along with the existing characteristics of colour, race, or ethnic or national origins.

March 15 terror attack was against a particular faith and the Royal Commission stated that religion should also be included as a protected characteristic. If race and colour can be included, why can’t religion also be included, said Abdur Razzaq, Chairperson, FIANZ Royal Commission Submission.

The recommendation further stated that given the direct link between hate speech and hate crime, the Crimes Act 1961 should be updated to make it an offence to stir up, maintain or normalise hatred, through threatening, abusive or insulting communications with protected characteristics that include religious affiliation.

We had two successive Ministers of Justice in the previous Labour government who were unable to proceed with the legislation and we now find that the new Minister of the coalition government simply putting up a ‘stop sign’ before the Law Commission, said Abdur Razzaq. We can understand that there may be a lack of political will due to other economic priorities, but the silence is a cause of genuine concern. We had expected that the new government would have at least opened a conversation on this important recommendation of the Royal Commission.

At a time when hate is being normalised in schools, supermarkets and city streets, with ethnicity, faith, sexual orientation and disabled communities bearing the brunt of hate crime according to recently released Police hate crime statistics. The Police data shows that Muslims face the highest level of faith-based hate crime. Muslims face over 300% more hate crime than the Jewish community. With this hate pandemic so evident, we did not expect that the new government would remain silent.

FIANZ has just released its long-awaited report on Hate Speech and Freedom of Expression. The report has a comprehensive review of the First Principles as well as an evidence-based discussion on the link between hate speech and democratic principles, including freedom of speech. The overwhelming evidence is that there is a direct link between hate speech and hate crime, which is also what the Royal Commission highlighted. What is most interesting, is that almost all democratic countries who value freedom of speech also have hate speech legislations to ensure there are limits and responsibilities. It is this balance which society needs to discuss openly.

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FIANZ recognises that prior to any such important legislation being enacted, there should be a civil society consensus. This is most important, yet that is not what is happening. Instead we have the new government requesting the Law Commission to focus on hate crime legislation and totally disregard hate speech. This is counter to the Royal Commission recommendations.

The Minister of Justice, Hon. Paul Goldsmith’s claim in December 2022, when he was in Opposition, that extending hate speech to religious belief, without any additional safeguards for freedom of speech, risks deterring and criminalising robust debate about religion, simply lacks any evidence. FIANZ has analysed each of the claims and found exactly the opposite. Detailed analysis with evidence is included in the Report. The least we would have expected is that after the March 15 terror tragedy the Minister would have recognised that there needs to be public awareness of this issue, rather than simply ignoring this important legislative safety net. The Royal Commission stated that two faith communities are most vulnerable due to the lack of this safety net , they are Christians and Muslims.

We are kindly requesting the Hon Paul Goldsmith, Minister of Justice, to at least initiate a conversation on hate speech and the importance of freedom of expression. In any democracy the opportunity to debate and discuss such important issues is a fundamental prerequisite. Our suggestion is that robust community conversation is more productive than simply ignoring the issues. We trust the Minister will agree., said the FIANZ spokesperson.


  1. The simple fact is that the Luxon regime is not interested in addressing the only real hate speech threat in New Zealand- the spread of zionist/counterjihad rhetoric of the sort espoused by the Israel Institute of New Zealand, that inspired the Christchurch attack that copycatted Baruch Goldstein’s attack on the al-Ibrahimi mosque in occupied Palestine.

    • Au contraire, the Luxon regime is committed to maintaining the repeal of blasphemy law in this country. A relatively recent repeal and once which FIANZ wishes to restore to curb criticism of Abrahamic religions and concerns over the spread of Islamist ideology that inspired the Lynnmall supermarket terror attack and the 2019 retaliatory attack on Sri Lankan Christian worshippers in their churches.


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