Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Abolish Northern Ireland's Blasphemy Law

There's now an effort to abolish the old blasphemy law that still exists in Northern Ireland. See here:
"Blasphemy and blasphemous libel are legal offences in Northern Ireland.

In May 2008, blasphemy laws were abolished by the UK Parliament but this did not extend to Northern Ireland, leaving the matter to be decided by the NI Assembly which has shown no interest in addressing the issue.

Abolition of these archaic laws will bring Northern Ireland into line with the rest of UK legislation. It will also be a symbolic act showing that Northern Ireland is finally moving away from religious prejudice, is shunning its fundamentalist elements and is prepared to embrace an inclusive, tolerant and secular future.

Blasphemy laws are used throughout the world to prevent free speech and to oppress and persecute religious minorities. Repeal of the Northern Ireland blasphemy laws will show solidarity with the oppressed while raising awareness of the issue and setting an example for other countries to follow."
Michael Nugent also wrote a compelling piece in The Journal on Ireland's blasphemy law in the summer 2013. He said:
"The Irish blasphemy law reinforces the religious ethos of the 1937 Constitution. The preamble states that all authority of the State comes from a specific god called the Most Holy Trinity. You cannot become President or be appointed as a Judge unless you take a religious oath. There are also other references in the Constitution to religion, as opposed to gods. We should be removing 1930s theistic references from the Irish Constitution, or updating them to reflect the reality of Ireland today, not legislating to enforce them."
Nugent also said how Islamic states uphold Ireland as an example in support of upholding religious speech laws: 
"Islamic states, led by Pakistan, use the Irish blasphemy law at the UN to promote universal blasphemy laws. Professor Heiner Bielefeldt, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion, has advised Atheist Ireland: 
"Of course you are right that the major damage done by this legislation is the international one. 
I wouldn’t expect any harsh verdicts being handed down in Ireland, but those countries that continue to have an intimidating anti-blasphemy practice like to quote European countries to unmask Western hypocrisy. I hope things will be moving in the right direction."
My previous blog post on Northern Ireland's blasphemy law here.

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