Earlier in November this year, the Greek Minister of Justice announced a project to reintroduce criminal sanctions for blasphemy. However, on 12 November the Government eventually renounced to its project, following public outcry by large parts of Greek civil society that showed a clear refusal of this criminalization of criticism and dissent.
The EHF pays tribute to the civic opposition that made it possible to prevent this anachronistic proposal from being adopted and welcomes the decision not to reintroduce blasphemy in the criminal code, which was a threat to the country’s great progress in ending criminalisation of blasphemy.
In June 2019, the Greek government repealed the long-standing criminalisation of the “malicious blasphemy of God” and of “the Greek Orthodox Church or any other religion tolerated in Greece”, two blasphemy articles in its Criminal Code. This was a crucial step for freedom of expression in the country as expressed by the European Humanist Federation back then.
The EHF reaffirms its commitment to freedom of expression, including the right to criticise or mock religious dogmas, beliefs and institutions. It recalls that “blasphemy” and “insult to religion” laws contravene freedom of expression and are in violation of the international human rights framework.