Repeal Blasphemous Libel NZ Crimes Act Pt 7.123
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In New Zealand it is a crime under the Crimes Act 1961 to publish any content that can be seen as blasphemous libel. This law is not only archaic, first making an appearance in the Crimes Act 1908, but a clear violation of the Bill of Rights/Freedom of speech. It should today, in our multi cultural/multi faith society, be impossible to prosecute and therefore it should be repealed.
To date there has been one prosecution, under the similar section in the old Crimes Act, which occurred in 1921. The defendant was found not guilty. In recent times there have been 2 cases considered under the Act however the crown did not prosecute citing as the reason freedom of speech.
Many religions consider people with different religious ideals as Blasphemous. Who decides which religion is acceptable and which is not? Who decides what is decent language under the law? Under section 123 of the Crimes Act that initial decision is left to the Attorney-General. While recent Attorney-Generals have not accepted prosecutions under the law. Who is to say, and given recent worldwide politics, one will not in future. Is not religion a personal choice? Is it appropriate to have in our legislation a Crime that is a Crime specifically against religion. How can we subjectively consider this Criminal intent?
The law of Blasphemy libel could never be prosecuted in our society today. No one has ever been successfully prosecuted of such a Crime in at least the last 80 years. It is now time to remove this section from our legislation. The subjective nature of the Act is such that it is dangerous to have such a section in our Acts.
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