Andrew Little makes a difference: Blasphemy law to be repealed

Justice Minister Andrew Little

I never thought I would ever say anything in support of Andrew Little but this week he did something really important.

Denmark didn’t scrap its centuries-old blasphemy law until it was faced with the ridiculous situation of a man facing trial for burning a Koran.

In Ireland, they didn’t start questioning the blasphemy law it until the police investigated actor and comedian Stephen Fry for saying in an interview that “the god who created this universe, if it was created by God, is quite clearly a maniac.” Their blasphemy law has not yet been repealed.

In Canada, they finally scrapped their archaic blasphemy law last year.

A law prohibiting blasphemy should be anathema for any country that purports to value freedom of expression and freedom of religion

[…] As one Danish lawmaker recently put it, “Religion should not dictate what is allowed and what is forbidden to say publicly. It gives religion a totally unfair priority in society.” As it happens, of course, there are numerous countries when religion does in fact dictate what it forbidden to say publicly. In countries like Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, blasphemy is punishable by death.

[…] freedom guarantees one’s right to believe, but it bestows no obligation upon anyone else to respect those beliefs. “God is great” and “God is a myth” should be equally protected speech. Freedom of religion entails the freedom to reject a religion or reject all faith entirely. The state itself must remain neutral on such matters — what we might also refer to as “secularism.”

It’s unfortunate that’s it’s taken 125 years to figure this out, but it’s a victory worth savouring.

Allowing New Zealand’s old blasphemy law to stay will open New Zealand up to prosecutions for criticising Islam or for doing things like burning a Koran. I don’t know about you but simply knowing that I am not allowed to burn a Koran makes me really want to burn one.

Luckily, in New Zealand the Muslim community is not yet large enough to influence this decision, and as the Christian community has wholeheartedly supported the repeal of the law we can happily consign it to the dustbin of history. HOORAY!

Labour first tried to repeal the law when they were in opposition but National blocked them saying that the public should first have a say. Whaleoil criticised them at the time for this delay. It is an archaic law, akin to laws about witchcraft, and there was no need for the public to be consulted. As long as the law exists there is the potential for religious activists to use it to persecute people and silence them.

Andrew Little is 100% correct – it needs to go. If National or any other parties vote against repealing this bill they will be on the wrong side of history as they will be enabling the imposition of the sharia in New Zealand. They will also be helping Dame Susan Devoy, from the Human Rights Commission, who wants to strengthen, not repeal, New Zealand’s blasphemy laws.

I know how I will be celebrating the repeal of this law. I don’t want to live in a world where people can dictate to me what I use to start my fire.

book burning


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