Grant Robertson should understand 'chilling effect' of hate speech as rainbow community left out of proposed new laws - advocate

The rainbow community is disappointed and frustrated after being left out of the Government's new proposed hate speech laws. 

After years of divisive policy debate, six proposals and thousands of submissions, the Government released its new hate speech law proposal on Saturday - making just one change to the Human Rights Act.

The Government is going to make one amendment to the hate speech laws to include religious communities. However, it hasn't ruled out extending it further to other groups in the future.

Auckland Pride executive director Max Tweedie told AM on Monday it's disappointing the rainbow community has been left out, but not surprising. 

"It's left out the rainbow community, it has left out gender and it's also left out those with disabilities and I think that's pretty disappointing for us," Tweedie told AM fill-in co-host Patrick Gower. 

"Obviously, it's something that's really important for our communities to be protected against and obviously absolutely understand the keeping of the religious provisions but it's pretty disappointing, but ultimately not super surprising." 

Tweedie said he's been on the receiving end of "horrible, reprehensible" comments from people and believes the laws need to change.

"I've been on a street in Auckland and been told that I need to go back to the gas chamber where I belong," he said. 

"This type of horrible, reprehensible speech really harms minority communities like the rainbow community and we are left out of this legislation, which is incredibly disappointing." 

Appearing on AM alongside Tweedie, Free Speech Union chief executive Jonathan Ayling said hate speech laws don't work and can make things worse. 

"There is reprehensible speech that is allowed in our country, but hate speech laws don't work, that's the basic fact of the matter," Ayling told AM on Monday. 

"In fact, they can often make the situation far worse for the marginalised or the vulnerable. So we're pleased to see that the Minister has listened to the tens of thousands of submissions that we were able to facilitate against this change and we believe that free speech is actually the bulwark of liberty for vulnerable communities." 

Tweedie had a simple message for deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson, who is openly gay, who he believes should understand the "chilling effect" hate speech has on the rainbow community.

"You get this every day on your Facebook pages and you understand the chilling effect of the speech," Tweedie said. 

"This morning you're talking about headlines of a shooting in Colorado Springs in the United States, the bastion of free speech, that this rise of hatred has led to actual violence towards our communities. He knows the impact that it has and he knows that he could do something to fix that." 

Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson.
Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson. Photo credit: AM

Robertson told AM, following Tweedie's interview, he hopes in the future they can make "comprehensive" changes to hate speech laws. 

"The Royal Commission recommended the changes around religious belief and we've been able to put that forward now but we're asking the Law Commission to get this right," he told AM on Monday.

"I want and I hope in the future that we will be able to make a comprehensive change but we do need to get this right and make sure we bring New Zealanders with us as we do that." 

The Government's plan to create new hate speech laws came as part of a response to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the 2019 Christchurch terror attack. They were supposed to be ready a lot earlier but were delayed because of confusion and "strong feedback".

Watch the full interview with Max Tweedie and Jonathan Ayling above.