FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
TORONTO, ON–(Marketwired – June 08, 2017) – The Canadian Secular Alliance (CSA) applauds the government’s legislation to repeal Section 296 (blasphemous libel) from the Canadian Criminal Code.
Bill C-51 (An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Department of Justice Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act) was tabled in Parliament yesterday to modernize the Canadian Criminal Code by repealing or updating a variety of the unconstitutional, outdated or unused provisions that still exist.
Blasphemous libel, currently a criminal offense which threatens prison sentences of up to 2 years, has not resulted in a conviction since 1935. It is widely considered to be in violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
“Freedom of speech is a central principle to every liberal democracy,” said CSA President Greg Oliver. “All ideas — including those derived from religious belief — should be subject to scrutiny and criticism.”
While blasphemy laws are increasingly rare among liberal democratic nations, they are still active in 55 countries — and carry the death penalty in at least 6 countries. By taking steps towards abolishing Canada’s blasphemy law, the government is sending a clear message that laws like these have no place in countries that seek to uphold fundamental freedoms.