Humanists call for abolition of blasphemy law in proposed hate crime legislation

Gordon MacRae

Humanists have written to Scottish government secretaries Aileen Campbell and Humza Yousaf to call for Scotland’s common law offence against blasphemy to be dropped in forthcoming legislation covering hate crime.

A letter from Humanist Society Scotland calls the retention of the common law offence against blasphemy “a stain on Scotland’s overall positive human rights record”.

Furthermore, the letter claims that members of the Scottish Parliament’s Public Petitions Committee received information from the government that a consultation, launched last week, would cover this issue.

However, the consultation document has no question relating to the offence.

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.

“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.

“There is no rational reason for retaining a law as part of legislation that will bring in new protections against religiously motivated hate crime.”