Last month, legislation was introduced in New Zealand in order to revoke the blasphemy law. Decades old blasphemy law is seen by many as obsolete and non-operational. The blasphemy law handed out a year in prison for the culprits. Blasphemy accusations were registered under the Crimes Act.
Justice Minister Hon Andrew Little introduced Crimes Amendment Bill. Once this bill gets a green signal from the Parliament the blasphemy law will be annulled and void. Remarking about the bill he stated: “The Bill repeals ‘Blasphemous Libel’ which has not been prosecuted in New Zealand since 1922 and raises potential Bill of Rights Act concerns. This provision is seen by many as an archaic and obsolete provision that has no place in a modern society that protects freedom of expression.”
Last year, New Zealand’s Labour Party or simply Labour tried to repeal the blasphemy law but was prevented by doing do by the National Party. It was maintained that the opinion of public must be considered before repealing the blasphemy law. Later this year, the bill will be brought under consideration by the Members of the New Zealand Parliament. When the bill goes before a select committee the public will have a chance to submit their opinions.
The matter was brought under discussion, last year when a British actor Stephen Fry faced blasphemy accusations. He was interrogated by the Irish Police, following a complaint of blasphemy. British actor reportedly uttered derogatory remarks about God in an interview back in 2015.
Annulment of the blasphemy law has been upheld by New Zealanders who maintain the law was now obsolete. In this relation, former Premier of New Zealand Bill English, stated last year that the law was archaic and must be repealed. The Church is also of the same opinion maintaining that God did not need to be defended by a law.