On 17 February, Spanish actor Willy Toledo will appear in Court for alleged crime against freedom of conscience, offences against religious feelings, and offence of obstruction of justice. The trial comes after ultra-conservative organisation Abogados Cristianos (the Spanish Association of Cristian Lawyers) had failed a complaint against him for several comments he disseminated on Facebook between 2015 and 2017.
Back in 2018, when the Court of Madrid issued an arrest warrant against Willy Toledo for failing to appear and testify, the EHF issued a solidarity statement and acknowledge “the courage of a man who has rightfully identify that this kind of court cases are of another age”. In 2015, the FHE co-launched the campaign End Blasphemy Laws, aimed at removing blasphemy laws at European level.
Ahead of the next hearing, our Spanish member Europa Laica and the Association for Human Rights in Spain have issued a position statement demanding the suppression of offences against religious feelings.
Read the original statement in Spanish
In view of the prosecution of Willy Toledo for offense to religious feelings, Europa Laica and APDHE demand the suppression of this type of crime
After 40 years of democracy, the offence of blasphemy, under the euphemistic criminal category of “offense to religious feelings”, remains in the Criminal Code. This is an attack against freedom of expression and freedom of conscience.
The fact that some citizens like Willy Toledo still have to face inquisitorial proceedings for having committed offence of blasphemy, is nothing else but the reflection of the privileged treatment that the Catholic Church has had for so many years in Spain, imposing a faith-based imprint on our legislation.
The inquisitorial process to which Willy Toledo is being subjected, as in many other cases in the past, is not only the result of the action of ultra-conservative organisation Abogados Cristianos, association that is at the service of the Episcopal Conference, but also the outcome of a political system that has kept such legal classifications in our Criminal Code.
After the new government announces its intention to reform the Criminal Code, Europa Laica and the Association for Human Rights in Spain urge authorities to include in this reform the suppression of offences against religious feelings and its related offences contained in Articles 522, 523, 524 and 525 of the Criminal Code.
Likewise, we demand that article 510 (hatred crimes) be regulated in accordance with related international recommendations, because as it stands at present, it punishes dissent and encourages authoritarian control of social criticism and self-censorship.