Religious vilification laws in New Zealand: Should the freedom of expression be taken as gospel?
With ever-increasing multiculturalism and diversity within New Zealand, this paper explores the potential for religious vilification laws to be passed in order to promote community tolerance. New Zealand’s Human Rights Act 1993 includes both civil and criminal offences for the incitement of hostility on the grounds of race. There is no commensurate provision protecting religion. This paper considers the harm that religious vilification laws seek to remedy, and whether their efficacy in preventing this harm is proportionate to the incursion upon the freedom of expression. Ultimately, it suggests that while there are real harms associated with religious hate speech, the adversarial legal system is a flawed instrument through which to deal with it.