Nugent: … blasphemy laws
discriminate against atheists. They treat religious beliefs and
sensitivities as more worthy of legal protection than atheist beliefs
You today have a unique opportunity, as members of this Convention,
to recommend to the Irish Government that we replace this anachronism
with a positive clause about freedom of expression, modeled on Article
10 of the European Convention of Human Rights.
Nash: Very few countries still have blasphemy laws,
as blasphemy laws as opposed to religious hatred laws, and these are
entirely the remnant of much older laws and the attitudes that go with
them. But Ireland’s constitutional requirements have led to a new law –
the only newly constructed modern law in the west. As such it is a
significant break with past laws (and past laws in Ireland itself).
Although there have been no prosecutions in Ireland, it is
clear that this law has victims beyond these shores, as other countries
actively cite and view Ireland’s law as a precedent to persecute both
the religious and non-religious in their own societies.
Donnelly: We in Atheist Ireland, along with other
human rights campaigners, have sought the release of [blasphemy law
victim] Asia Bibi, and other such victims. We are regularly told that we
in Ireland have just passed our own new blasphemy law, so why are we
complaining about theirs?
During all of this, the Pakistani Government was leading the
Islamic States at the United Nations in calling for an extension of
blasphemy laws around the world, using wording taken directly from
Ireland’s new blasphemy law.
In today’s world, our actions in Ireland affect real people
elsewhere. Please send a message to Asia Bibi, the face of blasphemy
laws, and to her captors, by voting to remove the blasphemy clause from
Very powerful words from all of them. Now it’s up to the delegates of
the convention to do the right thing and make a strong recommendation
to the government to repeal the law for good. There’s just no reason to
punish someone for the (fake) crime of criticizing religious beliefs.