Penalization of blasphemy and religious insults as an infringement of freedom of expression in Europe

Iannis Inglezakis


Despite the commitment to freedom of expression of European States, which are members of the EU and of the Council of Europe, the penalization of blasphemy persists in some European countries, which provide for criminal charges for blasphemy or defamation of religion. However, these laws have a chilling effect on free speech. The European Court of Human Rights has considered that these laws do not infringe the ECHR, as it assumed a right not to be insulted in religious beliefs which must be balanced with the right to freedom of speech. This paper discuss the necessity for having laws prohibiting religious insults and defamation of the divine. It is argued that such laws constitute absolute restrictions of the right to freedom of expression and it is proposed to abolish such laws.

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