Rights groups push for yes vote in Irish blasphemy referendum

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Source: The Guardian

BY

Irish voters will decide on Friday whether to remove a clause in the country’s constitution that makes blasphemy a criminal act. A yes vote in the referendum would be a further sign of the diminishing influence of the church in the once staunchly Catholic country.

The referendum is being held alongside the presidential election, in which the incumbent, Michael D Higgins, is expected to win a second term. It follows May’s landslide referendum vote in favour of removing a constitutional clause effectively outlawing abortion.

The last prosecution for blasphemy in Ireland was in 1855, but three years ago Irish police investigated comments made by Stephen Fry on television in which the comedian described God as “capricious”, “mean-minded”, and an “utter maniac”. The investigation was later dropped after Gardaí decided insufficient numbers of people had been outraged.

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