“The Government’s proposed Hate Speech Laws mean someone could spend longer in jail for having an unpopular opinion than assaulting a child, male assaults female, participating in a riot and common assault," says ACT Leader David Seymour.
“A cabinet paper released last week shows that speech would go into the Crimes Act, with a three year penalty.
“The Government needs to get its priorities right. We have gangs shooting at each other in public and children being murdered in their homes but the Government is more interested in putting people in jail for exercising freedom of speech.
“Some say that there is little chance of a prosecution under hate speech laws. Whether they are right or wrong, these hate speech laws should not progress. If they are right there’s no point, if they’re wrong, people are going to be jailed for having an unpopular opinion.
“These laws are divisive and dangerous, turning debate into a popularity contest where the majority can silence unpopular views.
“Threatening others or inciting violence should be illegal, but something as subjective as ‘offensive’ language should never be unlawful.
“Freedom of expression is one of the most important values our society has.
“We should go back to one of life’s earliest lessons. Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.”