Tuesday, May 10, 2005

"About right" - yeah right

The Human Rights Commission recently put a release on the hate speech inquiry, saying that our current laws were " about right" in balancing freedom of expression with the protection of minority groups.

The hate speech inquiry is all about whether to extend Sections 61 and 131 of the Human Rights Act 1990 to include all prohibited forms of discrimination as per section 21 of the Act. Prohibited grounds are sex, marital status, religious and ethical belief, colour, race, ethnic, age, disability, political opinion, employment status and sexual orientation.

Section 61 prohibits expression of racial disharmony - such as Holmes' "cheeky darkie" comment. Section 131 prevents incitement of racial disharmony. Should we extend that to expressions of disharmony against those of asexual orientation or gender identity? Most New Zealanders don’t want to.

But the Human Rights Commission does, even if it says the current balance is "about right". The Commission is proposing that section 131 should be replaced by criminal legislation covering race, colour, nationality, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, age or disability. Their release says:
"Deliberate or intentional incitement at the more serious end of the scale should be treated in the same way as any other criminal offence."

But not incitement against areas such as marital status, sex , and ethical belief, apparently. Additionally gender identity is not even a prohibited form of discrimination. If the Human Rights Commission is concerned about upholding human rights as opposed to protecting those in the gay community, it should at least start proposing criminal legislation of current prohibited grounds without adding new ones in.


Even better, the release should have stopped at the first sentence:
New Zealand has the balance "about right" in relation to the freedom of expression and the protection of minority and vulnerable groups, the Human Rights Commission told the Inquiry into Hate Speech today

We don’t need hate speech.


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