UK waters down EU religious hatred ban

Reuters reports that the UK has succeeded in narrowing the scope of an EU-wide anti-racism law. Set to be agreed upon this week, the new law will require EU states to punish “hatred against religion” only if it is a pretext to incite hatred against a group of person because of national or ethnic origin, race or colour.

How on earth lawyers are supposed to prove that criticism of mockery of religion is a “pretext” for racism is not made clear. But it is hard to see how a prosecution against, for example, the guest editor of the Motoon-publishing Clarefication would succeed. So the UK intervention is probably a good thing, on the whole.

This is the same piece of legislation which proposed making holocaust-denial an EU-wide offence. Fortunately, that could not be agreed upon. Countries will be allowed to maintain their own legislation on genocide-denial.

(Hat tip The Pub Philosopher)

UPDATE: (20 April) The law was passed without reference to either religious hatred or holocaust denial.

2 Responses to “UK waters down EU religious hatred ban”

  1. tom p says:

    I guess that one could show that it is a pretext for inciting hatred against a racial group if an organisation had previously published such attacks on a racial group and then simply changed the racial term to a religious one, eg the BNP switching from Pakis/Asians to Muslims once racial hatred was outlawed.
    Failing that, one might, for example, covertly record meetings of such a group and show that when it was not on paper that the language reverted to racial rather than religious.

  2. Elliott Grasett says:

    On 04 February 2006 Matthew Parris said in TimesOnLine, “We must never relinquish, nor lightly value our right, not to argue in the face of other people’s Gods, but to fart.”

    Alas, we Canadians enjoy no such right.

    “Blasphemous Libel


    “296. (1) Every one who publishes a blasphemous libel is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years.

    “Question of fact
    “(2) It is a question of fact whether or not any matter that is published is a blasphemous libel.

    “(3) No person shall be convicted of an offence under this section for expressing in good faith and in decent language, or attempting to establish by argument used in good faith and conveyed in decent language, an opinion on a religious subject.

    “R.S., c. C-34, s. 260.”

    I should dearly love to see this section of the Criminal Code of Canada tested and found wanting under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.