Despite the decriminalisation of “blasphemy” per se in 1988, a de facto “blasphemy” law remains on statute and has resulted in a small number of prosecutions. Article 525 of the Spanish penal code outlaws “offending” or “derision” of religious “feelings”, “dogmas”, “beliefs” or “rituals”.
A de facto blasphemy law is still on statute and is sometimes enforced. Article 525 of the Spanish Civil Code reads:
“1. Those that, in order to offend the feelings of members of a religious confession, make public derision, orally, by writing or through any type of document, of their dogmas, beliefs, rituals or ceremonies or mistreat, also publicly, those who practice that religion, will be punished with a fine between eight to twelve month of their salary. 2. Those that make public derision, orally or by writing, of people who do not confess any religion will incur in the penalties set in the previous paragraph.”
There have been a number of prosecutions under this law in the last several years. Most of these cases have been brought by the Spanish Association of Christian Lawyers and by a Catholic legal association, the Tomás Moro Legal Center.
Europa Laica, an organization that promotes pluralism and freedom of conscience, campaigns against Article 525 and has initiated a petition for its derogation.
In July 2017, the Spanish actor Willy Toledo wrote a Facebook post to express his indignation after three women were charged for offense against religious feelings by parading a large model of vagina through the streets of Seville during what was called the Procession of the insubordinate pussy. The Facebook post read:
“I shit on God and have enough shit left over to shit on the dogma of the saintliness and virginity of the Virgin Mary. This country is unbearably shameful. I’m disgusted. Go fuck yourselves. Long live the Insubordinate Pussy.”
The Spanish Association of Christian Lawyers filed a complaint against Toledo. In May 2018, instead of appearing at court, the actor called a press conference where he stated that he had not committed any crime and therefore would not appear before a judge. In September 2018, the Court of Madrid issued an arrest warrant against Toledo after he twice failed to appear and testify in court.
In 2004, the Spanish singer Javier Krahe was accused of blasphemy based on a short-film shot in 1978, where the artist allegedly showed how to cook a crucified Christ. The case was open for eight years and in 2012, after multiple attempts by the Tomás Moro Legal Center to prosecute him, the judge ruled that there was no intention from the defendant to humiliate religious beliefs and Krahe was acquitted.
During his play The Revelation, comedian Leo Bassi dressed up as the Pope in an attempt to condemn religious fanaticism and obscurantism. The Tomás Moro Legal Center accused Bassi of breaching Article 525. However, the court concluded in 2015 that apparently believing in a religion and publicly manifesting it (even in the form of satire chosen by Bassi) is protected under freedom of expression. Bassi also received multiple death threats and on 1 March 2015, during one of the comedian’s shows, a homemade explosive device was put under a theatre chair (luckily, the bomb caught fire but did not explode).