You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Blasphemy law soon to be repealed: Seymour

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 9/05/2017

New Zealand's blasphemy laws could be abolished by the end of the month, ACT leader David Seymour says.

He had intended introducing an urgent bill of his own to do the job, but says the government is now prepared to deal with it through the Statutes Repeal Bill that's already going through parliament.

Mr Seymour says he's forced the government's hand.

"I'm very happy, it's the right thing to do," he told reporters on Tuesday.

"Previously they refused to include the change in the Statutes Repeal Bill, now they seem to be prepared to do it... that means blasphemy laws can be gone by the end of this month."

Mr Seymour said the law was archaic, went back a long way and wasn't used.

"It's bad to have a law that we're probably all breaking just about every God damn day," he said.

"That means it could be enforced at random against unpopular individuals - that seems to be what happened to Fry."

The fact New Zealand still has blasphemy laws was raised this week after police in Ireland launched an investigation into comments made by Stephen Fry on Irish television in February, describing God as "capricious", "mean-minded" and an "utter maniac".

The probe was dropped on Tuesday after it was determined not enough people were outraged.

Earlier on Tuesday neither Prime Minister Bill English nor Labour leader Andrew Little were in a rush to remove blasphemy laws from the statutes.

They agreed the current process for repealing unnecessary laws was sufficient.

Mr English described the law as "a bit of an anomaly".

"We have a process for cleaning up law that's become redundant and that would be the normal process it would go through," he said.

A Statutes Repeal Bill is the normal process, and the one that's going through parliament removes numerous redundant laws.

Now, according to Mr Seymour, it will also deal with blasphemy.

He expects strong support for the law change, although Attorney-General Chris Finlayson was cautious about it.

"It's all very well to say it shouldn't be criminal but people in a multi-ethnic society need to be respectful... not everyone will have my urban liberal view of things."

United Future leader Peter Dunne didn't have any doubts.

"The sooner it goes the better."

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon