Will Ireland remove ''blasphemy offence'' from constitution?

Will Ireland remove ''blasphemy offence'' from constitution?

Irish voters are heading to the polls on Friday where they will be asked to vote on removing the offence of blasphemy from the constitution.

 

The referendum, which takes place on the same day as Ireland's presidential election, will ask the public whether to remove the word "blasphemous" from Article 40 of the constitution, which reads: "The publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter is an offence which shall be punishable in accordance with law."

 

Although the nation's blasphemy ban was enshrined in the constitution in 1937, no one has ever been prosecuted under it.

 

In 1995, a member of the public lodged a blasphemy case against the Sunday Independent newspaper, which had printed a cartoon of government ministers refusing the Catholic sacrament of communion.

 

Ireland's Supreme Court eventually threw the case out in 1999, ruling that, although blasphemy was technically a crime, there was no law to enforce it.

 

Ten years later, the government eventually defined the terms of blasphemy as law under the 2009 Defamation Act.

 

The punishable offence currently carries a fine of up to €25,000.

 

A high-profile case in 2017 drew attention to the law when Irish police opened an investigation into British comedian and actor Stephen Fry after a member of the public complained about comments he made during a 2015 interview on Irish television.

 

"Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid god who creates a world so full of injustice and pain?" Fry said on Irish broadcaster RTE.
 
The source: Euronews

26.10.2018

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