Irish scrap blasphemy laws – come on Scotland!

October 30, 2018

Votes in Ireland supported scrapping the country’s constitutional restriction on Blasphemy.

Humanists say Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf should follow suit by scrapping Scotland’s outdated Blasphemy offence.

Voters in Ireland have removed the country’s blasphemy law in a referendum.

This leaves Scotland further isolated as one of the last remaining European jurisdictions to still have a legal offence regarding Blasphemy on its books. Other countries have also recently scrapped the archaic laws with them been scrapped in England and Wales in 2008, Iceland and Norway in 2015, Malta in 2016, Denmark in 2017 and now Ireland in 2018. There are also similar proposals currently before legislators in New Zealand expected to pass later this year.

Humanist Association of Ireland, who welcomed today’s result, has called for other countries to follow suit. Chief Executive Noeleen Hartigan said:

Noeleen Hartigan

Today’s result marks another step forward for Ireland on the journey to becoming a more inclusive, secular society. Blasphemy has no place in the criminal code of a modern democracy, and we would urge our neighbours across Europe who have yet to modernise theirs laws not to drag their heels.

Noeleen Hartigan, Humanist Association of Ireland

Supporting these calls, Humanist Society Scotland, who lead the campaign to scrap the Scottish Blasphemy law, said action should be taken in the Justice Secretary’s forthcoming legislation on Hate Crime.

Chief Executive Gordon MacRae said:

Blasphemy and apostasy laws are being actively used around the world to kill and lock up atheists, Humanists and members of minority religious groups because they do not conform to the mainstream view of some political leaders. We can’t allow Scotland’s Blasphemy law to be used as a footnote in the legal text of countries that persecute atheists and others.

Ireland has now joined a growing consensus across the world in recognising the impact such laws have. Humza Yousaf has the perfect opportunity with the forthcoming Hate Crime Bill to consign Scotland’s blasphemy law to history where it well and truly belongs.”

Gordon MacRae, Humanist Society Scotland

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