28 November 2018

Humanists call on Scottish government to abolish blasphemy law

With proposed hate crime legislation in the pipeline, a humanist group has asked for blasphemy law to be included in the changes.

Humanists in Scotland have called on the Scottish government, though secretaries Aileen Campbell and Humza Yousaf, to drop Scotland’s common law offence against blasphemy in forthcoming legislation covering hate crime.

Stain on record

In a letter from the Humanist Society Scotland, the group stated retaining the common law offence against blasphemy ‘a stain on Scotland’s overall positive human rights record.’ The letter also states that members of the Scottish parliament’s public petitions committee received information from the government that a consultation would cover this issue, though the consultation document has no question relating to the offence.

Following Ireland

Humanist Society Scotland chief executive Gordon MacRae said ‘Scotland is one of the last remaining countries in Europe with a blasphemy law still on its books after Ireland recently voted by referendum to scrap this archaic crime.’ He added, ‘it is disappointing that after positive engagement with the government before the launch of this consultation, including correspondence sent to the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee, the Scottish government have now backed away from consulting on scrapping blasphemy.’ Mr MacRae concluded, ‘there is no rational reason for retaining a law as part of legislation that will bring in new protections against religiously motivated hate crime.’