Public institutions shouldn’t shut down healthy debate

It’s disappointing a women’s group has been blocked from holding an event at Christchurch City Libraries to discuss the proposed amendments to the Births Deaths Marriages Relationships Registration Bill, Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins says.

Christchurch City Libraries cancelled the group’s event after receiving complaints from some people who do not wish the legislation to be discussed.

“Council buildings are there for everyone in the community to use, they shouldn’t be picking and choosing who can hold events there based on what the discussion is,” Ms Collins says.

“Part of being a healthy democracy means allowing community groups to discuss topics and legislation and hear from differing views.

“We expect New Zealand to be a cohesive a society where everyone is treated equally and where freedom of speech is maintained.

“Freedom of speech in a democracy means having to tolerate the expression of diverse views. It works in both ways, people are entitled to voice their views and others are entitled to criticise those views, but they should be able to speak nonetheless.

“Sometimes legislation will polarise New Zealanders, as we have recently seen with the End of Life Choice and Legalising Marijuana referendums. But that does not mean we should shut down the debate.

“The National Party will always support the rights of people to protest peacefully and we are firm advocates of freedom of expression and freedom of speech.

“It’s important New Zealanders are engaged with politics and the speaking up on the legislation that matters to them. It’s disappointing the Christchurch City Libraries has shut down the debate in this situation.”