20/01/2020

Offence Of Blasphemy Abolished In Ireland

The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan, has announced the commencement of the Blasphemy (Abolition of Offences and Related Matters) Act 2019 which abolishes the offence of blasphemy.

The move comes after the Act was passed by both houses of the Oireachtas before Christmas, which followed last year's referendum approval of removing the criminal requirement with a majority in each of the 40 constituencies.

While the new legislation represents a short technical change, Minister Flanagan welcomed the law change.

"The very notion of criminalising blasphemy, with the risk of a chilling effect on free expression and public debate, has no place in the Constitution or the laws of a modern Republic," he said. "Ireland is a country of increasing diversity. The right to express differing viewpoints in a forthright and critical manner is a right to be cherished and upheld. With this Act we have also removed all identified references to blasphemy from the Statute Book, including those in the Censorship of Films Acts."

The Minister highlighted that the changes are not an attack on religious beliefs.

"The new Act is a simple acknowledgement that the meaning of the concept of blasphemy is unclear in a modern State, and that the concept is rooted in a distant past where fealty to the State was conflated with fealty to a particular religion."



(JG/CM)

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