Fifty Secular Groups Urge Repeal of Greek Blasphemy Law
Atheist Ireland has consistently opposed blasphemy laws, both in Ireland and also internationally as members of International Coalition Against Blasphemy Law (ICABL).
As part of these efforts with international partners, Atheist Ireland has become one of more than fifty organisations to sign a letter to the Secretary-General for Transparency and Human Rights at the Ministry of Justice in Greece. In their concluding statement during Greece’s review by the Human Rights Committee on 20 October 2015, the Greek delegation made the unprompted commitment that Greece will extend civil partnership to same-sex couples, legally recognize gender identity, as well as abolish outdated criminal provisions such as unnatural indecency and the articles on blasphemy.
The fact that the law on civil partnership was extended to same-sex couples and the crime of unnatural indecency was abolished, while an experts’ committee was set up to produce a draft law on the recognition of gender identity, is to be welcomed. However, it is a concern that the articles on blasphemy were not abolished, while new charges for blasphemy are pressed by prosecutors and the trial on appeal of blogger Philipos Loizos (aka “Elder Pastitsios”) has yet to be scheduled after almost two and a half years.
The letter and the full list of signatories can be viewed here. The letter urges the Secretary-General to see to it that the government promptly tables before Parliament the abolition of the two blasphemy articles from Greece’s Criminal Code and that prosecutors or courts drop all related charges pending before them. As Atheist Ireland continues to press for the abolition of blasphemy laws in Ireland, we will also offer whatever support we can for our international colleagues engaged in similar efforts.
A response to the open letter has been received from the Greek Government and it is reproduced below. Our colleagues in Greece have provided an English translation as follows.
Replying to your letter of June 2, 2016, we would like to inform you that the abolition of the Articles against blasphemy remains our declared aim and its implementation is connected to the overall planning of the Ministry of Justice.
In any case, issues concerning to the Penal Code are being examined by the competent Legislative Committee. Your letter will be drown to the attention of the Commission and, of course, of the Minister.
Atheist Ireland will continue to campaign for the abolition of blasphemy laws with our colleagues within ICABL.
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