Warning of risk to free speech
The Humanist Association of Ireland (HAI) has called on Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern to reconsider his proposal to make a new crime of blasphemy “as it could imperil the right to free speech for all citizens”, writes Patsy McGarry
Querying why Mr Ahern felt “impelled” to introduce such legislation, HAI chairman Dick Spicer went on to ask how, at the same time, the Minister can then “continue to ignore the Supreme Court call for legislation in the area of abortion?”
He said the HAI had “a principled objection to any attempt to introduce the crime of blasphemy into legislation” as it amounted to “a threat to free speech and a threat to religious freedom”.
He said that “no two religions agree on every theological point of view, and adherents of each must be free to express those views even if they are considered blasphemous by the adherents of a different religion. In fact, one person’s ‘blasphemy’ is another’s sincere belief”.
Pointing out that, while the HAI supported the freedom of religion and conscience, he said it also held that “no religious or philosophical beliefs should be protected from vigorous criticism and challenge”.