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Source: Human Rights Commission

This morning the Human Rights Commission heard the Minister of Justice’s announcement that the Human Rights Act will only be amended to protect religious groups from hatred-inciting speech.

This will expand the groups protected from such speech by including religion alongside the existing protected groups of colour, race, or ethnic or national origins.

However, this protection will not be extended to other groups who are vulnerable to harmful speech, such as women, disabled people, and the rainbow community.

The Government intends to ask the Law Commission to advise on extending protection to these other groups, as well as related matters.

We will discuss the Government’s proposal with affected individuals and communities, and will then issue a full and substantive response. We will make no further comment until then.

In the meantime, in our view, the Government’s proposal, which comes after significant consultation over several years, is very disappointing. It fails to protect some communities that are most vulnerable to harmful speech in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The Commission’s role in this is to advance a human rights approach, and we have made detailed contributions on these issues since 2019. Read our report Kōrero Whakamauāhara: Hate Speech – An overview of the current legal framework.