Admin l Sunday, October 28, 2018
VIENNA, Austria – OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Harlem Désir today welcomed the results of yesterday’s referendum in Ireland calling for a removal of blasphemy provisions from the national Constitution.
The Irish Constitution of 1973 previously stated that “the publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter is an offence which shall be punishable in accordance with law”. The Defamation Act of 2009 defines blasphemy as a “matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion”.
“This is a positive step forward on freedom of expression and I congratulate the Irish people on this decision,” said Désir. “I call on the 16 OSCE participating States where blasphemy remains a criminal offense to follow Ireland’s example as these laws are incompatible with international standards on freedom of expression.”
“Even if not applied in practice, criminal or over-broad prohibitions on blasphemy have a chilling effect on the free exchange of ideas and information, and can be used to suppress critical speech within and beyond the OSCE region,” Désir stated.