New Zealand is among the first countries in the world to allow users to upload gay videos to YouTube, where they can be viewed by anyone, and which have been widely criticised for being too judgmental about gay people.
The move follows a wave of anti-gay comments, violence and even death threats, as well as complaints about homophobic content being deleted or removed.
According to the New Zealand Human Rights Commission, the new legislation, which takes effect in April, allows users to post “inappropriate or offensive content, such as explicit sexual references, explicit violence, or pornographic images of people”.
“This is a significant step forward in New Zealand’s anti-bullying and anti-hate environment,” said David Crouch, chair of the New South Wales Commission for Racial Equality (NCRF), which has worked with YouTube to create its anti-harassment policy.
“It allows the internet to be a safe place for everyone to share their thoughts and opinions about issues of concern to them.”
The New Zealand Parliament is expected to debate the legislation in its spring session, with Prime Minister John Key saying that it will provide a “great platform for New Zealanders to discuss the harmful effect of hate speech”.
“We are very proud that the Government of New Zealand has listened to our calls for more open and welcoming discussion,” Key said in a statement.
“We are committed to building a safe and welcoming society that respects diversity and the rights of all New Zealand citizens.”
Crouch said that the new law had been a “huge success” with more than 1.5 million views of gay-themed videos, including some with “very explicit language”.
“The new law makes it much easier for New Kiwis to share the content they want on YouTube and enables the New Zealander community to be more visible in the debate,” he said.
The country’s minister of culture, Chris Hipkins, said he was proud that New Zealand was leading the way in creating an inclusive and inclusive society.
“New Zealand is a country that has been making huge strides towards equality and inclusion in its social and political landscape,” Hipkins said in the statement.
“The introduction of the LGBTIQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Queer) act was an important first step in that direction and is now a real opportunity to achieve more in our country.”