Blasphemy law in New Zealand
In New Zealand, Section 123 of the Crimes Act 1961 allows for imprisonment up to one year for anyone who publishes any "blasphemous libel". Prosecution may proceed only with the leave of the Attorney-General.
To date the only prosecution for blasphemous libel in New Zealand has been the case of John Glover, publisher of the newspaper The Maoriland Worker in 1922. The Crown laid a charge of blasphemous libel over the 12 October 1921 issue of The Maoriland Worker which included two poems by British poet Siegfried Sassoon. The alleged blasphemy was the closing lines of Sassoon's poem 'Stand-to: Good Friday Morning':
- O Jesus, send me a wound to-day,
- And I'll believe in Your bread and wine,
- And get my bloody old sins washed white!
In 1998, the Crown decided not to prosecute Te Papa museum for displaying Tania Kovats' Virgin in a Condom. In 2006, the Crown decided not to pursue blasphemy charges against CanWest, a broadcaster, for airing an episode of South Park featuring a menstruating Virgin Mary statue. Usually, such cases must be referred to the New Zealand Attorney-General before they can proceed. However, the Attorney-General usually refuses to pursue blasphemy prosecutions on the basis of free speech objections, as the right to free speech is protected within New Zealand's Bill of Rights Act 1990.
- Crimes Act 1961 - Section 123
- Ahdar, Rex Tauati (2008). "The right to protection of religious feelings". Otago Law Review 11 (4): 629–656. Retrieved 5 December 2012.
- Geoffrey Troughton (November 2006). "The Maoriland Worker and Blasphemy in New Zealand". History Cooperative. Retrieved 2008-07-05.
- "Maoriland Worker". Hawera & Normanby Star. 23 February 1922.