Spain has moved closer to bolstering freedom of expression for its people after the Parliament of Spain passed an initial vote on removing blasphemy from the Spanish civil code.
Spain’s Congress of Deputies voted 180 to 166 in favour of abolishing penalising ‘offences to religious sentiments’.
The move comes after Humanists UK last month organised an open group letter from famous names in British film, television, and music to the Prime Minister of Spain, which urged him to repeal Spain’s unjust and archaic blasphemy law as part of the End Blasphemy Laws campaign.
Spain is one of several western European countries that continue to proscribe blasphemy in law and those accused can face very large financial penalties. The letter was organised after Spanish actor Willy Toledo was detained for a Facebook post ridiculing ‘God and the Virgin Mary’.
Significant progress on blasphemy has been made since then with France, Malta, Norway, Iceland, and Denmark all having recently repealed their blasphemy laws. However, many countries around the world still have restrictive and harsh blasphemy laws.
The proposals to repeal the law were brought forth by the Podemos party, and supported by the governing Socialist Party.
Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson said:
‘Blasphemy laws are an unconscionable violation of the right to freedom of thought, belief, and expression and have resulted in extreme abuses across the world where people have been murdered, tortured, or jailed just for expressing opinions about religion.
‘Spain’s archaic restrictions, which are still being enforced, are a dangerous breach of its citizens’ rights to think and speak freely. We support moves to abolish blasphemy laws in Spain, and around the world, and we urge the Spanish Congress to keep up its efforts to make sure this is passed into law.
‘Spain also has a responsibility to send a strong international message. Some of the world’s most horrific regimes use Western countries’ blasphemy laws to justify punishing and persecuting religious minorities and the non-religious alike.’
Humanists UK co-founded the End Blasphemy Laws campaign in 2015, coordinated by the International Humanist and Ethical Union and European Humanist Federation.
Later this week, voters in the Republic of Ireland will decide whether to repeal their constitutional prohibition on blasphemy in a referendum.
For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07815 589636.
Read more about Humanists UK’s international campaign to end blasphemy laws: https://humanism.org.uk/campaigns/international-campaigns/
Read more about our letter to the Spanish Prime Minister:
At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.