Humanist Society Scotland Edinburgh group held a protest against Blasphemy laws in early January. The group highlighted cases of Humanists, atheists and free-thinkers from around the world that are persecuted for their beliefs.
A report by the International Humanist and Ethical Union last year found seven countries where Humanists were in serious danger and actively persecuted and another 85 where they face serious discrimination.
Scotland still has a Blasphemy offence in common law, and while there has not been a successful prosecution in over a hundred years, this so-called “dead letter law” does have an impact. Countries around the world who actively use Blasphemy laws to persecute non-religious and minority religious people, such as Pakistan, have used European “dead letter laws” to defend their actions.
Humanist Society Scotland is currently leading a campaign to end this outdated law in Scotland and raise awareness of persecution abroad in the name of such laws. Blasphemy laws were scrapped in England and Wales in 2008, Iceland and Norway in 2015, Malta in 2016 and Denamark in 2017, showing such a change is not without merit.
The groups held the rally on the anniversary of the execution of Thomas Aikenhead, the last person in the British Isles to be murdered by the state for Blasphemy and at the spot where he was held before his execution.
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