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In Northern Ireland, blasphemy remains a crime.

In England and Wales, these laws were repealed in 2008, and in 2018, citizens in the Republic of Ireland voted in a landslide referendum to repeal the country’s blasphemy laws. It’s time that we followed suit, and repealed our blasphemy law in solidarity with the victims of anti-blasphemy legislation around the world. The time is now for Northern Ireland.

Please write to your MLAs today and advocate for repeal of Northern Ireland’s blasphemy laws. Just put in your postcode below.

 




 

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What’s wrong with blasphemy laws?

‘Blasphemy’ and ‘insult’ to religion laws are wrong in several ways:

  • They violate the human right to freedom of expression
  • They protect religious beliefs, practices, institutions, and leaders, from legitimate and often necessary criticism
  • They are intrinsically bad, subjective, inconsistent laws; there is no ‘right way’ to use them
  • They legitimise vigilantism, mob violence, and persecution of minorities
  • Retaining blasphemy laws, even if they are not often used, legitimises their use in countries such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia where people face the death penalty for expressing views deemed to be blasphemous
  • Finally, supposedly ‘dead letter’ laws can be reactivated, as was seen in 2017 in Denmark, and that same year in the Republic of Ireland when our patron Stephen Fry was investigated for blasphemy.

There are still blasphemy laws in Northern Ireland?

Yes! Blasphemy or blasphemous libel is a crime in Northern Ireland under common law, the Law of Libel Amendment Act 1888, and the Criminal Libel Act 1819, which remain in force today. These crimes need to be abolished.

What can I do to help?

You can bring this issue to your MLAs’ attention by writing to them or arrange to see them at their constituency surgeries. We’ve provided a facility through which you can email your MLAs, simply by putting in your postcode above.

To assist you in writing your letter/email, we have provided suggested text. You are strongly encouraged to edit this to make it more personal – we know that MLAs are more likely to take notice of personalised emails and queries.

The Northern Ireland Assembly isn’t sitting, so what’s the point in writing to MLAs?

As justice and policing are powers devolved to the Northern Ireland Assembly, it would normally be for MLAs to decide whether to repeal Northern Ireland’s blasphemy laws. Although the Northern Ireland Assembly is not sitting, we still think the most effective way to bring about a repeal of the law is therefore to show there is support for repeal amongst its members.

MLAs are also still our active constituency representatives, and it’s important they understand the strength of feeling from the public about this issue.

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