Fears religious communities will be vulnerable after Government withdraws hate speech reform

There are fears religious communities will be vulnerable following the Government's decision to withdraw hate speech reform. 

The proposed new laws came as a response to the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the 2019 Christchurch terror attack. 

The aftermath of March 15, 2019, brought many communities together.

The subsequent Royal Commission of Inquiry recommended significant changes against speech inciting hatred or discrimination, and the Government agreed, promising action.

Now they've passed the buck. Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon told Newshub he expected the hate speech recommendation to be at the top of the to-do list. 

"I thought, along with gun control, this one would be one of the high-priority actions to take from the recommendations."

The issue of hate speech is politically contentious. In recent years it's been aimed at a growing number of groups.

"We've seen it spread online but also we've seen it go from online to offline and even to this particular lawn where I'm standing. Hate was standing here last year," said the Islamic Women's Council's Ailya Danzeisen. 

Last November the Government announced it would water down the reform.

"We are making a simple change to the Human Rights Act, which expands the incitement provision to include religious groups," Justice Minister Kiri Allan told Newshub Nation. 

Now they've withdrawn it all together.

"It consumes time and energy and at the moment we need to have our time and energy focused on those issues I've set out as priorities," Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said on Wednesday.

"Well, it's taken a lot of time and energy from our community and lives not getting in front of it," said Danzeisen.

The Government has now passed the political hot potato to the Law Commission.

"We hope that the Law Commission will make a strong recommendation to the Government to actually make sure that our vulnerable groups are protected," said Foon. 

For now, hate speech remains unsilenced.