This week, a Court of Madrid has issued an arrest warrant against Spanish actor Willy Toledo for failing to appear and testify twice after a complaint of the Spanish Association of Christian Lawyers for alleged vexation of religious feelings.
The Spanish Association of Christian Lawyers had denounced to the Office of the Attorney General comments disseminated by Willy Toledo through Facebook in July 2017, which in the opinion of this organization vexed religious feelings. After the actor eluded two summons, the Court ordered his arrest.
This case comes after Willy Toledo reacted to the opening of a trial in Sevilla involving 3 women charged for alleged offense against religious feelings when they carried out a demonstration in 2014 called the Procession of the unsubmissive pussy. The case had been temporarily closed in June 2017. However, under pressure from the Spanish Association of Christian Lawyers, a Sevilla court re-opened it. It is at this occasion that Toledo reacted by stating: “”I shit on God and I have plenty of shit to shit on the dogma of the Virgin Mary’s sanctity and virginity.”
In May this year, instead of appearing in front of the court, Toledo called a press conference where, in company of a number of famous Spanish actors, he made his position clear:
I believe that I have not committed any crime and therefore there is no need for me to appear before a judge to declare my religious feelings, my ideology, my way of thinking, my sexuality. The Constitution protects me in all these facts.
The EHF follows these developments with great interest and acknowledges the courage of a man who has rightfully identified that this kind of court cases are of another age.
“Blasphemy” and religious insult laws prohibit, make it harder or limit free expression when it comes to asking questions, offering criticism, and expressing satire or ridicule, in relation to religion. These modes of discourse (questioning, criticising, satirising, and ridiculing) belong firmly in the realm of freedom of expression. Therefore, “blasphemy” and “insult to religion” laws, which criminalize such expression, contravene freedom of expression and are in violation of the international human rights framework.
It is high time that EU countries show the example by abolishing them.