Sir, – Today is International Blasphemy Rights Day, a day to show solidarity with those who challenge oppressive laws against free expression and to support the right to challenge prevailing religious beliefs without fear of arrest or persecution.
Under the 2009 Defamation Act, blasphemy is a crime punishable by a fine of up to €25,000. We are asking all political parties and all TDs and Senators to repeal this anachronistic blasphemy law and to support a referendum to remove references to God from the Constitution. We believe such a referendum should also address clauses that prevent citizens from being appointed president of Ireland or a judge if they do not swear a religious declaration. Furthermore, we would remind readers that the Convention on the Constitution, which was established in December 2012, considered the blasphemy issue and voted against retaining the existing constitutional prohibition of blasphemy.
The Humanist Association of Ireland believes blasphemy laws are unjust and believes that in a civilised society people have a right to express and to hear ideas about religion. Medieval laws have no place in a modern secular republic. – Yours, etc,
Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin.