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Ireland to hold referendum on repealing blasphemy law

[JURIST] The Irish cabinet voted on Tuesday in favor of the Removal of Blasphemy Bill [legislative schedule], which will "provide for a referendum on removing the crime of blasphemy from the Constitution."

Charlie Flanagan [official website], the Minister for Justice and Equality, proposed [Irish Times report] the bill.

Article 40.6.1(i) [Constitution; Wikisource] of the Irish Constitution says, "The publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter is an offence which shall be punishable in accordance with law." The Defamation Act of 2009 [statute] sets a maximum fine of 25,000 euros (around 30,000 USD) and defines blasphemy as "publish[ing] or utter[ing] matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion" with the intent to cause outrage.

The blasphemy laws came into the public eye after a British comedian criticized God on an Irish broadcasting network.

The referendum is expected to be held in October.

In May Ireland held a referendum [JURIST report] in which the country voted to repeal Ireland's constitutional provision banning abortion.

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