International Humanist and Ethical Union
41st Session of the UN Human Rights Council (24th June – 12th July 2019)
Universal Period Review: New Zealand
We are pleased that the abortion law is currently under review in the country, and that New Zealand has accepted the Netherlands’ recommendation to remove abortion from the Crimes Act 1961 and review the Contraception, Sterilisation and Abortion Act 1977. However, like Canada, Iceland and Uruguay, we urge the government to go with Model A of the Law Commission report on “alternative approaches to abortion law.” There should be no statutory tests in order for any woman to make choices about her body.
We also note the end of life choices bill that has passed its second reading in parliament; this is an excellent initiative that we hope passes its third reading.
Humanists International would like to congratulate New Zealand on repealing its blasphemy law since its last review. A law that protected ideas over people inherently undermined New Zealand’s commitment to human rights. In tandem with this, we are pleased to hear of New Zealand’s intention to develop a national strategy to address racial discrimination and racism. We note that the government has also signalled its intention to examine hate speech laws with the possible inclusion of religious people. We urge it to include the non-religious also. It is important for New Zealand to be inclusive when tackling hate against individuals, whatever their beliefs.
With this in mind, we were disappointed that the National Statement of Religious Diversity excluded people of various ethical beliefs other than religious ones in “the right to safety” element of the statement. There are persecuted atheists who have sought refuge in New Zealand precisely because if its inclusive nature. It owes it to those individuals as well as to all its citizens, whatever their beliefs, to ensure its safety and security for all.
'UPR statement on New Zealand', Humanists International