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New Zealand is planning stronger hate speech laws in response to the Christchurch terror attack

New Zealand has said it plans to strengthen its hate speech laws and increase penalties for inciting hatred and discrimination in response to the attack by a white supremacist in Christchurch two years ago that killed 51 Muslims. The move comes after a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Christchurch attack on March 15, 2019, recommended changes to hate speech and hate crime laws, which it said were weak deterrents for people targeting religious and other minority groups with hate.

New Zealand’s hate speech laws have resulted in just one prosecution and two civil claims so far, the Royal Commission had noted. “Protecting our right to freedom of expression while balancing that right with protections against ‘hate speech’ is something that requires careful consideration and a wide range of input,” Justice Minister Kris Faafoi said at a press conference.

The government proposed new criminal offenses for hate speech that it said would be clearer and more effective.

Under the proposal, a person who “intentionally stirs up, maintains or normalizes hatred” would break the law if they did so by being threatening, abusive, or insulting, including by inciting violence, the government said.

Punishment for such offenses would be increased to a maximum of three years in prison or a fine of up to A$46,570 (NZ$50,000). Currently, the punishment is up to A$6,520 (NZ$7,000) or three months in jail.

A man and his children place flowers as a tribute outside the Al-Noor Mosque on 15 March 2021.

A man and his children place flowers as a tribute outside the Al-Noor Mosque on March 15, 2021.


It also proposed provisions that would protect trans, gender diverse and intersex people from discrimination. Current laws only target speech that “excite hostility” against a person or group based on their color, race, or ethnicity.

The proposals are now open for public consultation.

An Australian has been sentenced to life without parole over the death of 51 people during the attacks on two mosques. It is the first time a whole life term has been handed down in New Zealand.

With support across the political spectrum, New Zealand swiftly banned the sale of the high-capacity semi-automatic weapons used in the attacks. But changes to hate speech laws have been more contentious as some political parties said it would impede free speech.

“The government’s proposed hate speech laws are a huge win for cancel culture and will create an even more divided society,” New Zealand’s more diminutive ACT Party leader David Seymour said in a statement.

Molly Aronson

Molly Aronson is a 26-year-old government politician who enjoys bowling, running and jigsaw puzzles. She is creative and exciting, but can also be very greedy and a bit greedy.She is an australian Christian who defines herself as straight. She has a post-graduate degree in philosophy, politics and economics. She is allergic to grasshoppers.

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