Lords back blasphemy law abolition

Curiously, only the LA Times has a report on this at the time of writing. But the big news is that the House of Lords has agreed to amendment 144B of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill, which abolishes the blasphemy law.


144B Insert the following new Clause—
“Blasphemy and blasphemous libel
(1) The offences of blasphemy and blasphemous libel under the common law of England and Wales are abolished.
(2) In section 1 of the Criminal Libel Act 1819 (60 Geo. 3 & 1 Geo. 4 c. 8) (orders for seizure of copies of blasphemous or seditious libel) the words “any blasphemous libel, or” are omitted.
(3) In sections 3 and 4 of the Law of Libel Amendment Act 1888 (c. 64) (privileged matters) the words “blasphemous or” are omitted.
(4) Subsections (2) and (3) (and the related repeals in Schedule 38) extend to England and Wales only.”

Passed 148 – 87

UPDATE: The National Secular Society is celebrating. They have their own report of the debate.

President Terry Sanderson:

This is the culmination of the Society’s 140-year fight to abolish this medieval law under which many innocent victims have suffered. Even in the 20th century, one of my predecessors was jailed for blasphemy, and an old man was sentenced to hard labour, causing his premature death. The laws have been criticised recently as being uncertain, without penalty and widely believed not to be compliant with Human Rights.

I pay tribute to all those who have suffered under this cruel law, denying freedom of expression, and to those before me who have campaigned for its abolition.

Our celebrations will be overshadowed by the knowledge that parliaments elsewhere in the world will soon be pressurised into passing a new law even more pernicious than blasphemy. It will outlaw so-called defamation of religion. Pressure to pass this law is coming from a bloc of Islamic countries organised by the OIC (Organisation of Islamic Conference). Having made their demands at the UN Human Rights Commission, they are now planning to lobby the Inter-Parliamentary Union.

Nations respecting Human Rights must speak out against the defamation of religion law as it undermines the freedom of expression on which our democracy, and indeed our civilisation, depends.

The NSS is having a summer party on June 21 to celebrate – and blaspheme freely.

6 Responses to “Lords back blasphemy law abolition”

  1. marc says:

    So what can we do now? Can I go around wearing a billboard that says: “Jesus was a Non-existent Wanker” around Camarthen and not get arrested? Or will that be public order offence? 😉

  2. BSE says:

    Am so looking forward to this years anti-dogshit protest at pride… so far the plan is to wear pighead masks and pink feather boas and I might get some prints of that christ, with a cock, blown up to wave at the hate mongers… can’t wait….

  3. […] of MediaWatchWatch – if this isn’t good reason to dance up and down, I don’t know what […]

  4. happysophie says:

    So, if we’re a member of the NSS can we go to this party? How did you hear about it? I wanna be there but I can’t find it on their website.


  5. marc says:

    National Secular Society: http://www.secularism.org.uk

    Make sure you sign up for the rather good e-letter thingy which I look forward to every week.

  6. Britannia says:

    This is great news but sadly the muzzie religious nutters are pushing the UN for an anti religious defamation law.
    I’m still waiting to be arrested for wearing my T-shirt that says “Religious belief is a mental illness”