Humanists urge repeal ahead of ‘blasphemy’ trial in Greece

EHF GA Athens May 2016 News

Scottish Humanists have added their voice to the growing calls for Greece to repeal its ‘blasphemy laws’, ahead of the appeal trial of Philippos Louizos.

Mr Louizos was convicted of blasphemy in January 2014 for setting up the “Elder Pastitsios” Facebook page. At the initial hearing he was sentenced to 10 months in prison.

In May 2015, the General Assembly of the European Humanist Federation met in Athens, and urged the newly elected Greek Government to repeal its blasphemy laws as a matter of urgency.

EHF GA Athens May 2016 FB

(l-r) Pierrie-Arnaud Perrouty (CEO of European Humanist Federation), Maria Yannakaki (Greek Justice Ministry), Pavan Dhaliwal (Head of Public Affairs, British Humanist Association), Philippos Louizos, and Panayote Dimitras (Chair of Humanist Union of Greece) – Speaking at the European Humanist Federation General Assembly, Athens, May 2015

Then in August 2016, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) included a recommendation in its concluding observations that Greece repeal its blasphemy laws.

On the 6th January, a joint letter from the European Humanist Federation and the International Humanist and Ethical Union was sent to Maria Yannakaki, the Greek Secretary-General for Transparency and Human Rights.

Mr Louizos‘ appeal hearing is scheduled for 2 March 2017, and if the relevant legislation is repealed, the case would be dropped.

Gary McLelland, HSS Head of Communications and Public Affairs

Gary McLelland, HSS Head of Communications and Public Affairs

Commenting on this, HSS Head of Communications and Public Affairs, and Board member of the European Humanist Federation, Gary McLelland, commented:

“Many people across Europe will be shocked to learn that 17 countries still have laws against so-called ‘blasphemy’.

“In a majority of cases, such as Scotland, the law poses no direct threat to free expression. However, we have seen cases where a long-dormant blasphemy law has been resurrected, such as in Ireland.

“This prosecution is clear and fragrant disdain for the principles of free expression. We urge the Greek authorities to repeal the relevant legislation as a matter of urgency.”

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