Opinion Former Article

Irish blasphemy result a resounding success for free speech, says Humanists UK

Ireland’s vote to remove blasphemy from its constitution is a resounding success for free speech, signalling growing momentum towards a more secular future for the country, according to Humanists UK. It also underlines the fact that Scotland and Northern Ireland should now urgently repeal their own laws.
At the referendum yesterday, Irish citizens voted resoundingly to remove the clause with exit polls suggesting around 70% voting for repeal.

Humanists UK encouraged Irish citizens to go home to vote in the run-up to the referendum, with Stephen Fry tweeting about its campaign.

Welcoming the referendum decision, Humanists UK chief executive Andrew Copson said:

‘Irish people have voted to decriminalise blasphemy because they value their right to freedom of expression and they don’t believe that making comments about religion or a God should ever be a crime.

‘It is welcome news for the international campaign against blasphemy laws, as even though the Irish law was obsolete, countries like Pakistan have cited it to justify persecuting religious minorities and the non-religious and enforcing extreme punishment such as prison or death for people accused of blasphemy.

‘Today’s vote should surely also send a strong message to Scotland and Northern Ireland of the need to urgently join the growing international movement of countries turning against these laws.’

Ireland is the latest country to repeal its blasphemy laws, joining France, Malta, Norway, Iceland, and Denmark.

Notes:

Humanists UK co-founded the End Blasphemy Laws campaign in 2015, coordinated by the International Humanist and Ethical Union and European Humanist Federation and previously led the campaign for the successful repeal of blasphemy laws in England and Wales in 2008.

For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson on richy@humanism.org.uk or 07815 589636.

Read more about our Irish blasphemy campaign here: https://humanism.org.uk/blasphemyref

Read more about Humanists UK’s international campaign to end blasphemy laws: https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/international-campaigns/

At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.

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