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Gang patch ban further erosion of Kiwis’ speech rights – FSU

The Government’s Bill to ‘crack down on gangs’ is an unjustified breach of the Bill of Rights according to the Attorney-General. She’s right. Banning gang patches and insignia may be a politically popular decision in some communities, but is a troubling precedent further eroding Kiwis’ freedom of expression, says Jonathan Ayling, Chief Executive of the Free Speech Union.

“We have submitted to the Justice Select Committee highlighting four significant areas in this legislation that must be reconsidered. You do not need to support the illegal activity of gangs to see the dangerous flaws in this legislation.

“We don’t get to pick and choose whose rights are protected under the Bill of Rights. It has to apply to all Kiwis, or we may quickly find our own rights being removed.

“We also propose five amendments to the legislation to address the pitfalls in the current design. These include requiring the Attorney-General to consent to the addition of groups defined as ‘gangs’ under the legislation, and introducing a sunset clause giving the Government and public the opportunity to review the legislation.

“This legislation is too broad, appeals to emotion rather than evidence, and does not consider the wider implications on our nation.

“Playing politics with fundamental rights is a risky game in which we all lose. Where any community is committing illegal activities, they must face the consequences. But criminalising expression is a slippery slope.” 

 

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