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UK House of Lords votes to abolish criminal blasphemy

[JURIST] The UK House of Lords [official website] voted Wednesday in favor of abolishing the criminal offenses of blasphemy and blasphemous libel from the UK common law. By a vote of 148-87 [roll call], the House of Lords adopted Amendment 144B [text] to the government-sponsored Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill [bill materials]. The full Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill has not yet received final approval from parliament.

The UK government proposed the provision after being criticized last November for chiding Sudan for arresting a school teacher for insulting religion while having a blasphemy law on the books in the UK. The last blasphemy prosecutions in the UK were in 1922, and before that the two prior prosecutions were in 1841 and 1676. BBC News has more. The Los Angeles Times has additional coverage.

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