Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Repealing Blasphemous Libel

Last month, Angie Warren-Clark's Crimes (Offence of Blasphemous Libel) Amendment Bill was drawn from the ballot, and the bill is likely to have its second reading tomorrow. But that apparently isn't fast enough for Andrew little - he's included a provision to repeal blasphemous libel in the government's new Crimes Amendment Bill, which he introduced to the House yesterday:

New Zealand's archaic anti-blasphemy law is to be scrapped under the new government.

Justice Minister Andrew Little introduced legislation on Monday to repeal the decades-old law.

Blasphemous libel is listed in the Crimes Act and comes with a punishment of up to a year in prison but has not been prosecuted since 1922 - and even then was unsuccessful.

Labour sought to repeal the law when in opposition last year, but National blocked its attempt, saying the public should first have a say.

The government's Crimes Amendment Bill will be considered by MPs later this year and people will have a chance to make submissions when it goes before a select committee.

The repeal is part of an omnibus to repeal old and outdated laws, including the year-and-a-day rule for homicide. Using a government bill generally means faster progress, though it can't have a first reading until Thursday.

Its unclear yet whether Warren-Clark will pull her bill, or let it proceed in parallel as a spur to government action. But either way, its good to see politicians falling all over themselves to do this, after years of inaction.