International, British, and Greek humanists join forces at the UN to speak out against racism and blasphemy laws in Greece

21 September, 2016

Lampooning Elder Paisios on Facebook landed one Greek humanist a custodial sentence in 2014
Lampooning Elder Paisios on Facebook (his name resembles the pasta dish ‘pastitsio’) led to one Greek humanist receiving a custodial sentence in 2014

The British Humanist Association (BHA), in a joint statement with the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), European Humanist Federation (EHF), and Humanist Union of Greece (HUG) has spoken out against Greece’s blasphemy laws and the presence of explicitly racist political parties, as part of the 33rd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

In August 2016, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (UN CERD) published a report concerning racism and the state of minority group rights in Greece, which, among other things, called for the criminalisation of racist organisations and the dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority, as well as the abolition of blasphemy from its Criminal Code. Together with IHEU, EHF, and HUG, the BHA urged Greece to bring its anti-racism legal framework into full compliance of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), which states that parties to the Convention ‘Shall declare an offence…all dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred…[and] shall declare illegal and prohibit organizations…which promote and incite racial discrimination’.

The coalition of organisations are particularly concerned about the presence of the Golden Dawn political party, which has been described by the Greek delegation as ‘the most prominent racist organisation, inspired directly by neo-Nazi ideas’, and urged Greece to criminalise the organisation.

The Greek delegation was also strongly encouraged to follow through with its recent commitment to ‘ensure religious freedom and tolerance by [introducing] measures such as decriminalising blasphemy and protecting the rights of religious minorities, atheists and agnostics’ laid out in its most recent Universal Periodic Review.


For further comment or information, contact Pavan Dhaliwal, Director of Public Affairs and Policy at or on 0773 843 5059.

The British Humanist Association is the national charity working on behalf of non-religious people who seek to live ethically and fulfilling lives on the basis of reason and humanity. It promotes a secular state and equal treatment in law and policy of everyone, regardless of religion or belief.

Read the full statement: