July/August 2017 Church & State - July/August 2016

Around The World: Danes Vote To Scrap Blasphemy Law

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The Danish Parliament has repealed a law punishing blasphemy with a 75-27 vote, a move that was met with approval from the secular community.

“Blasphemy laws always contravene freedom of expression. Such laws don’t help people live side by side, rather they are a block on open, honest discussion between communities, they marginalize minorities,” Andrew Copson, president of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, said in a June 2 statement. “Congratulations to Denmark! The world must follow suit.”

The law prevented people from criticizing religions or committing what some perceive as anti-religious acts. The last time a prosecutor attempted to use the law to punish someone was in 2015, when a man who burned a Quran would have spent as much as four months in prison if convicted.

“This [vote] means that we can have a freer and less prejudiced discussion about religions,” Bruno Jerup, whose Red-Green Alliance party was behind the proposal, said after the repeal was passed.

Other countries with similar laws to Denmark’s repealed blasphemy law include Ireland and New Zealand.

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