The European Humanist Federation (EHF) rejoices at the results of the Irish referendum on repealing the clause penalizing blasphemy in the country’s Constitution.
This result is yet another important milestone that will foster the harmonious co-existence of the many life stances present in our modern societies, including in Ireland.
, said Giulio Ercolessi, President of the European Humanist Federation.
Laws penalizing blasphemy by definition violate freedom of expression, a fundamental principle of democratic societies that can be limited only in very specific cases such as incitement to hatred or violence. Ercolessi added:
By their mere presence, blasphemy laws have a chilling effect on asking questions, expressing criticism or making ridicule or satire in relation with religion. The Irish people have recognized this and voted in accordance. We congratulate them wholeheartedly!
In light of this positive result, the European Humanist Federation calls those European countries that still have blasphemy laws, such as Austria, Cyprus, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Spain, or parts of the United Kingdom to follow Irelands lead.
Repealing the last blasphemy laws still in force in Europe is fundamental not only because it will foster freedom of expression but also because it allows the EU to reinforce its voice worldwide when it promotes human rights and Freedom of Religion or Belief.
, commented Giulio Ercolessi.
In some of these countries, people still effectively face prosecution, trial and condemnation for blasphemy. Most of the time, these take the form of fines. In other countries, these laws are only vestigial of an old system some of the elements of which are still being fiercely protected by a loud reactionary minority.
Our member organisation, the Humanist Association of Ireland have also welcomed the repeal of Blasphemy in Irish Constitution. So did our sister organisation, the International Humanist and Ethical Union. Read their statement on their website.