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BHA welcomes the high court's sensible decision on blasphemy

The British Humanist Association (BHA) today welcomes the decision by the High Court not to allow a prosecution against BBC Director-General Mark Thompson for blasphemy to go ahead.

Stephen Green, director of the group Christian Voice, had attempted to use the blasphemy law to prosecute Mark Thompson over the BBC's screening of Jerry Springer - The Opera in 2005.

Naomi Phillips, BHA Public Affairs Officer, said, 'We welcome the sensible decision by the High Court not to allow this case to go forward. The blasphemy laws in the UK - which protect Christian beliefs - are clearly contrary to the principle of free speech and probably contrary to human rights laws which protect freedom of expression, and that must include the right to criticise beliefs, religious or otherwise. The blasphemy laws are anomalies in the context of our increasingly diverse and increasingly non-religious society. The UK's law seeks to protect people and their rights to their beliefs, but not to protect the beliefs themselves.'

Ms Phillips continued, 'In a free society we must be allowed to criticise religious doctrines and practices, even if that offends some people. Hopefully today's ruling will bring back to public debate the need to abolish the outdated blasphemy laws that clearly have no place in Britain today.'

The BHA has long campaigned to abolish the blasphemy laws.

Notes

The British Humanist Association (BHA) represents and supports the non-religious and campaigns for an end to religious privilege and to discrimination based on religion or belief. It is the largest organisation in the UK working for a secular society.

For further comment or information, please contact Naomi Phillips on naomi@humanism.org.uk or 020 7079 3585.

Find more information about the BHA's position on blasphemy at www.humanism.org.uk.

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