Irish referendum on removing blasphemy law, 26 October 2018

Author (Person)
Publication Date 29/10/2018
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Republic of Ireland held a referendum on 26 October on a clause in the country’s constitution that makes blasphemy a criminal act.

It turned out that voters have overwhelmingly supported the proposal to remove blasphemy with 64.85% voted Yes while 35.15% voted no. The turnout was 43.79%.

The referendum was held on the same day with the presidential election in which Michael D Higgins has been re-elected as Irish president after receiving 56% of the country's election vote.

Further information:

A yes vote in the referendum is a further sign of the diminishing influence of the church in the once staunchly Catholic country. Although the blasphemy clause was enshrined in the constitution more than 80 years ago, when the Catholic church wielded significant influence in the nascent state, it was reinforced in the 2009 Defamation Act. Under the law, an offence is committed if someone publishes or voices material “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”. The last prosecution of this offence was in 1855.

Related Links
RTE news, 28.10.18: Ireland votes to remove blasphemy from Constitution by 64.85% to 35.15%
Belfast Telegraph, 27.10.18: Ireland’s blasphemy referendum ‘small step towards 21st century constitution’
BBC news, 28.10.18: Irish vote to scrap offence of blasphemy
Irish Times, 27.10.18: Ireland votes as one to remove blasphemy from Constitutio

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