Heav­ens above! NZ to axe blas­phemy laws

New Straits Times - - World -

WELLING­TON: New Zealand plans to scrap the crime of blas­phemy af­ter calls from across the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum for re­form in re­sponse to an Ir­ish in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Bri­tish comic Stephen Fry.

David Sey­mour, leader of ACT, a mi­nor op­po­si­tion party who in­sti­gated the move, said law­mak­ers of all stripes wanted to end what they saw as an ar­chaic curb on free­dom of speech.

“New Zealan­ders cher­ish the fact that we have strong sep­a­ra­tion be­tween church and state,” he said yes­ter­day.

Sey­mour will no­tify Par­lia­ment to­day that he in­tends to in­clude blas­phemy on a list of laws that are sched­uled to be scrapped.

He added that the gov­ern­ment had agreed to the move and the re­peal should be com­plete by the end of the month.

Sey­mour said the bid to re­peal the law was prompted by an Ir­ish po­lice probe into whether Fry blas­phemed in a 2015 tele­vi­sion in­ter­view when he de­nounced God as “ut­terly evil, capri­cious and mon­strous”.

While the in­ves­ti­ga­tion was re­port­edly dropped this week, it led to New Zealan­ders re­view­ing their laws and find­ing blas­phemy was still on the statute books.

The news came as a sur­prise to many, in­clud­ing con­ser­va­tive Prime Min­is­ter Bill English.

Law­mak­ers, in­clud­ing op­po­si­tion Labour leader An­drew Lit­tle, all voiced sup­port.

Angli­can Arch­bishop Philip Richard­son also backed the move, telling Fair­fax New Zealand: “My view is, God’s big­ger than need­ing to be de­fended by the Crimes Act.” AFP

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.