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Bid to repeal blasphemy law fails

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 23/05/2017

An attempt by Labour MP Chris Hipkins to fast-track the repeal of the ancient blasphemy law has failed.

He tried to add it to the Statutes Repeal Bill, which has only one stage left before it becomes law, but he was thwarted by the government and the Maori Party.

The law became an issue earlier this month when British actor Stephen Fry was investigated by Irish police for alleged blasphemy.

The investigation was scrapped, but it raised questions about why blasphemy was still a crime in New Zealand.

It's been on the statutes since the 1800s and has only been used once for a prosecution.

That was in 1922, and it failed.

Mr Hipkins said the most simple way to get rid of it would be to insert its repeal into the Statutes Repeal Bill.

He tried to do that on Tuesday night but lost the vote 60-59.

The government's position was that the law wasn't being used so there was no urgent need to repeal it by putting it into a current bill at the last minute.

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