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Humanists UK calls for immediate release of people facing blasphemy and apostasy charges

Humanists UK today called on all UN member states to repeal blasphemy and apostasy laws and immediately release those convicted or detained under them at the 43rd session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Humanists UK’s representative Tallulah Gordon welcomed recent decisions made by several countries to decriminalise blasphemy, including in the Republic of Ireland, which removed blasphemy from its constitution in January this year, making it the eighth country to do so in the last five years. Greece also removed blasphemy from its criminal code in July 2019. And in 2018, the Spanish Parliament passed an initial vote to remove blasphemy from the Spanish civil code.

She continued, ‘Despite this progress, blasphemy and apostasy continue to be punishable by death in 14 countries worldwide. In Brunei, the death penalty for blasphemy was reintroduced only last year following the implementation of a new Sharia penal code. These discriminatory laws persist despite The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCRH)’s Rabat Plan of Action stating that the inter-religious dialogue, debate, and criticism censored by blasphemy laws is ‘constructive, healthy and needed’. It also observes that blasphemy laws are often used as a means of persecuting religious and non-religious minorities.’

In her closing remarks, Ms Gordon called on to all member states to recognise that blasphemy laws inhibit the universal human right to freedom of expression, and freedom of religion or belief.

Humanists UK is a founding member of the End Blasphemy Laws coalition and works to remove blasphemy laws worldwide.

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For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK press manager Casey-Ann Seaniger at casey@humanism.org.uk or phone 020 7324 3078.

Read Humanists UK’s  intervention at the UN here.

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.

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