Humanists UK at the UN calls for the abolition of blasphemy laws

16 June, 2017

In a joint statement at the 35th session of the United Nations Human Right Council, Humanists UK and LGBT Humanists UK has called upon states that criminalise blasphemy to remove these laws from their statute books, including the 13 countries where such crimes carry the death penalty.

In a statement delivered by Chris Ward, it was reiterated that blasphemy laws run counter to the fundamental right to freedom of expression enshrined in Article 19 of both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Humanists UK also raised concerns that blasphemy laws are being abused by governments to restrict criticism and political opposition, such as in the case of Saudi activist Raif Badawi who was arrested, imprisoned, and flogged for allegedly insulting Islam. Humanists UK has called for the immediate release of Raif Badawi, who remains in custody five years after his arrest, on 17 June 2012.

Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson commented, ‘There has been significant progress around the world towards abolishing blasphemy laws in the last two years. We are pleased that Denmark has recently joined Norway, Iceland, Malta, and the Alsace Moselle region of France in repealing these anachronistic laws. However, there still remain several countries – mostly in the Islamic world – where blasphemy remains a crime punishable by imprisonment, fines and even execution. We urge member states that still retain these laws to take immediate action to abolish them.’


For further comment or information, please contact Humanists UK Director of Public Affairs and Policy Richy Thompson on or 020 3675 0959

Read the full statement: 

Read more about the End Blasphemy Laws campaign:

At Humanists UK, we advance free thinking and promote humanism to create a tolerant society where rational thinking and kindness prevail. Our work brings non-religious people together to develop their own views, helping people be happier and more fulfilled in the one life we have. Through our ceremonies, education services, and community and campaigning work, we strive to create a fair and equal society for all.

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