What’s wrong with blasphemy laws?
We have a whole page on that question!
What counts as a “blasphemy” law?
We include in our campaign all laws which prohibit “blasphemy” or “blasphemous libel”, or which are de facto blasphemy laws (i.e. not using the term “blasphemy”, but functioning similarly), for example laws which ban “insult to religion”, or “offending religious feelings” or “sentiments”, or “ridiculing religious beliefs” or general “contempt of religion” and similar phrasing.
What about hate speech, or incitement to hatred?
We do not consider as de facto blasphemy laws any laws which genuinely only prohibit incitement to hatred or violence against individuals or against groups of people defined by a religion or belief. Such laws are outside our remit. However, legal provisions against incitement to hatred on the grounds of religion are often either bound up with, or are perceived as implying, a prohibition on “blasphemy” or religious criticism more generally. Our approach to each country attempts to take this into account, by differentiating between “blasphemy” laws, and laws which genuinely only prohibit both in theory and in practice incitement to hatred or violence. We document and include the former such laws, while the latter such laws are outside the scope of this campaign. Therefore sometimes we include as “blasphemy” laws, laws which in part are about prohibiting incitement to hatred or violence, but which also restrict the expression of insult, ridicule, satire or criticism of religion. (Whether genuine incitement-to-hatred laws, and similarly conceived laws, such as laws against Holocaust denial, are themselves a desirable boon for social cohesion, or a violation of freedom of expression, is outside the scope of this campaign.)
What about old “blasphemy” laws that no one really uses?
See our page What’s Wrong With Blasphemy Laws? under the section: Moratoria and “dead letter” laws”.
Who runs the campaign?
End Blasphemy Laws is a public campaign which is managed and run by Humanists International.