Today, the Danish parliament — the Folketing — has voted to abolish another European blasphemy law!
Following a controversial prosecution, a serious public and political debate, and now a decisive vote in parliament, Denmark becomes the fifth country in Europe to abolish “blasphemy” laws since 2015. Norway and Iceland abolished their laws in 2015, followed by Malta and France’s Alsace-Moselle region in 2016.
Via the End Blasphemy Laws campaign, in which the IHEU is a founding transnational partner, we have full coverage of how the Danish law came to be abolished.
IHEU Member Organization the Danish Humanist Society, Humanistisk Samfund, 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.”
Andrew Copson, president of the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), comments:
“Norway, Iceland, Malta, one French province, and now Denmark, have all abolished their historical “blasphemy” laws since 2015.
“This is a real trend and a vital change. European citizens will not stand anymore for these anachronistic and illiberal restrictions on talking about religion.
“Denmark saw a real, open public debate of the “blasphemy” law, and all the arguments in its favour were found to be wrong-headed or outright fallacious.
“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, and sometimes they serve to protect detrimental beliefs, practices and institutions from necessary criticism.
“Congratulations to Denmark! The world must follow suit.”
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). Full details are available on the End Blasphemy Laws campaign map at end-blasphemy-laws.org.