New Zealand to axe blasphemy laws

Source: Tribune

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 has 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 told AFP on Wednesday. “So when people discovered that there was a law that meant you could spend a year in jail for offending someone of a religious persuasion there was widespread condemnation.”

Seymour will notify parliament on Thursday 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.

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