The Government is launching a significant programme of work to strengthen social cohesion in New Zealand and create a safer, more inclusive society.
The work is part of the wider response to recommendations from the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the terrorist attack on Christchurch masjidain (mosques), and builds on existing initiatives by government to strengthen social cohesion.
“The Government wants to ensure Aotearoa is a place where everyone feels safe, valued, heard, has a strong sense of belonging, and is able to participate fully in society,” Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment, Priyanca Radhakrishnan said.
Today the Government is announcing public consultation on the latest programme of work on proposed changes to the Human Rights Act 1993 to strengthen protections against speech that incites hatred and discrimination; and seeking New Zealanders’ views about how they would make Aotearoa New Zealand more socially cohesive.
“Our diversity extends across ethnicity, culture, gender identities and expressions, religion, values and beliefs, ages, disabilities, sexual orientation, and the structure of our families.
“We are stronger as a nation because of this diversity but to maximise that strength, we need to create a society where our diverse communities are able to access opportunities, and express differences of opinion in a way that is safe,” Priyanca Radhakrishnan said.
“The context for creating a socially cohesive society in Aotearoa New Zealand is underpinned by Te Tiriti o Waitangi, Te Ao Māori perspectives and the Māori-Crown relationship.
“Building social cohesion, inclusion and valuing diversity can also be a powerful means of countering the actions of those who seek to spread or entrench discrimination and hatred,” Kris Faafoi said.
The Ministry of Justice is seeking public feedback on proposed changes to the Human Rights Act 1993 that aim to strengthen protections against speech that incites hatred and discrimination.
“Abusive or threatening speech that incites hostility can cause significant harm and divide communities.
“Protecting our right to freedom of expression while balancing that right with protections against ‘hate speech’ is something that requires careful consideration and a wide range of input,” Kris Faafoi said.
The Ministry of Social Development will lead a programme talking to the public about whether there are changes people would like to see to make Aotearoa New Zealand more socially cohesive, and what success might look like.
Public submissions for both work programmes are open from 25 June to 6 August 2021.