The End of ‘Blasphemy’ Law in Denmark

Abolish Blasphemy Law

Blasphemy laws were abolished in England and Wales in 2008. Other countries to abolish or repeal blasphemy laws include France in 1881, Sweden in 1970, Norway with Acts in 2009 and 2015, the Netherlands in 2014, Iceland in 2015, Malta in 2016 and France for its Alsace-Moselle region in 2016. Australia abolished and repealed all blasphemy laws at the Federal Level in 1995 but blasphemy laws remain in some States and Territories. Denmark is the last country in a series that has finally repealed blasphemy law, voting 75 to 27.

Denmark was one of only five countries in the European Union that has a blasphemy law on the books. The last time the law has been successfully used against anyone was in 1946. In 2017, a 42-year-old man was charged with blasphemy for posting a video showing him burning the Qu'ran in his garden on social media under the parole “Yes to freedom - no to Islam.”

Only members of the opposition Social Democrats voted against the move. “This means that we can have a freer and less prejudiced discussion about religions,” Bruno Jerup of the opposition Red-Green Alliance party, which launched the proposal, said.

The International Humanist and Ethical Union, is celebrating the end of the “blasphemy” law, which has been a major campaign goal of the organization since its founding nearly 10 years ago. “It is a victory of freedom of speech,” said President Lone Ree Milkær. “Let us use it to inspire respect and tolerance of any religion or belief and let us hope that the rest of the European countries which still have Blasphemy Laws will be inspired to abolish them.”

This is a huge step for Denmark and it should serve as an example to other civilized countries to abandon this archaic and inhuman law. Laws against “blasphemy”, or which place similar restrictions on free expression about religion, remain on statute in several other European countries, which now look increasingly isolated. These include Ireland, Liechtenstein, Italy, Germany, Austria, Poland, Finland, Montenegro, Greece, and some laws in Northern Ireland and Scotland (constituent countries of the United Kingdom).

Photo Credits: Whale Oil

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