Seymour on hate speech

writes:

Finally, Ghahraman says we should protect religion under the .
But it isn’t obvious that religion should be treated in the same way as something like race. Race is an immutable characteristic, whereas religion is a set of ideas. Including religion in the Human Rights Act won’t reduce violence, but it could restrict debate about, and criticism of, religion.

I agree that religion is different to the other characteristics.

The HRA already makes unlawful speech that is likely to excite hostility against any group of persons on the ground of colour, race, ethnic or national origins.

You can’t choose your colour, race, ethnicity or nationality.

Golriz wants to include “gender, sexual orientation, religion, or disability.

You basically don’t choose your gender, sexual orientation or disability so I agree there may be a case for including those. I suspect if they do, the majority of complaints will be people alleging speech attacking white men should be prosecuted so be careful of what you ask for.

But religion is a choice. Billions of people around the world choose whether or not to follow a particular religion, or none at all. Sure in some countries there is great cultural pressure to be of a particular religion, but in NZ we have true freedom of religion.

A religion is just a belief system, just as political ideology is. Having a law that says you can’t incite hostility towards a religion is like having a law saying you can’t incite hostility towards National Party supporters.

The Human Rights Act is about protecting people from discrimination for characteristics they have no control over. It is not about protecting religions from criticism.

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