New Zealand scraps its blasphemy law

5 March, 2019

New Zealand is set to become the latest country to scrap its blasphemy law, after a Bill on the law passed its third reading in Parliament today. The Bill now simply awaits the formality of royal assent. Humanists UK has expressed its delight at the news.

In 2015, Humanists UK co-founded the End Blasphemy Laws coalition, coordinated by Humanists International. Since then, France, Malta, Norway, Iceland, Denmark, Canada, and now New Zealand have repealed their laws. Ireland is set to follow suit, after a landslide referendum result on the matter last year, and Spain is considering doing the same.

Humanists UK Director of Policy and Public Affairs Richy Thompson commented, ‘We are delighted to see New Zealand scrap its blasphemy law, which sends a strong message about the importance of freedom of expression to countries all over the globe, and congratulate the New Zealand Humanists for their role in making this happen.

‘It is vital that all countries uphold freedom of religion, belief, speech, and expression. Although New Zealand’s blasphemy law had not been used in some time, such “dead letter laws” are often used by other countries to justify the active use of their own laws. Places like Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Pakistan often justify their behaviour based on the existence of similar laws in the west.

‘There are still blasphemy laws here in the UK – in Scotland and Northern Ireland – and they are in urgent need of repeal. We urge those responsible to take note and act accordingly.’


For more information, contact Humanists UK press manager Casey-Ann Seaniger at or phone 07393 344293.

Humanists UK co-founded the End Blasphemy Laws campaign in 2015, coordinated by Humanists International and the European Humanist Federation, and previously led the campaign for the successful repeal of blasphemy laws in England and Wales in 2008.

Read more about Humanists UK’s international campaign to end blasphemy laws:

At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.