Majority in Parliament backs SP proposal to scrap blasphemy laws

28 November 2012

Majority in Parliament backs SP proposal to scrap blasphemy laws

A Parliamentary majority has voted to support a proposal from the SP to scrap the ban on blasphemy. SP Member of Parliament Jan de Wit, who proposed the repeal together with centrist party D66, said that ‘a ban on blasphemy does not belong in our criminal statutes. There is already a satisfactory law on insult and offence, so in my view we do not need this in principle unjust specific provision.’

Jan de Wit has long argued in favour of repeal of a law which has lain dormant since 1968, but following the murder of Theo van Gogh, maker of a film seen by some Muslims as insulting to their religion, the Minister of Justice at the time called for the ban to be revived, while a later Justice Minister proposed its broadening. In both cases Parliament managed to prevent the moves.

Jan de Wit‘In the existing law there are sufficient provisions against insult, offence and discrimination,’ says de Wit. ‘God does not belong in our criminal statutes, moreover.’ He stresses that his proposal is not intended to give carte blanche for insult and offence, but that a ban on these should protect everyone, and not specifically those who believe in the Christian God. ‘Furthermore we should take care not to look too readily for ways of dealing with improper utterances in the criminal law’ he adds. ‘Social debate benefits from a high degree of freedom of expression. The limits of this are laid down in the law, and scrapping the ban on blasphemy doesn’t change this practice. But for reasons of principle this article must be scrapped, and in my view this will now happen, and quickly.’

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