SNP makes abolition of blasphemy law party policy



 

The abolition of Scotland’s centuries-old blasphemy law has become a policy of the SNP after the party passed a resolution that the law would never be used to prosecute anyone.

Blasphemy is outlawed under the Confession of Faith Ratification Act 1690 and was last used in 1843 to convict the Edinburgh bookseller Thomas Paterson who was imprisoned for selling blasphemous literature.

A resolution passed by the SNP’s national council called for there to be no possibility of a prosecution under the law in the future.

The last man to be hanged in Scotland for blasphemy was medical student Thomas Aikenhead, who was led from his cell on January 8, 1697 at the Tolbooth jail in Edinburgh. He was 20 years old.

The motion said Scotland lags behind other European countries by still having the law on the statute books and called for “the abolition of the archaic common law crimes of blasphemy, heresy and profanity to the extent that they remain law in Scotland”.

It added: “Council believes that such a move will strengthen Scotland’s capacity to speak out against human rights abuses under the guise of blasphemy and heresy elsewhere in the world, as well as removing once and for all the possibility that the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal service could prosecute on such grounds here.”