Friday, February 29, 2008

Blasphemy abolition moves closer

Blasphemy abolition moves closer
The abolition of the blasphemy laws took a decisive step forward this week with the tabling of a government amendment to do so in the House of Lords.

In January the Government had promised in the House of Commons to table a Lords amendment after a "short and sharp" consultation with the churches. This was prompted by the tabling of an amendment by NSS Honorary Associate Dr Evan Harris. The Government amendment this week, however, comes at a considerably earlier stage than had been expected as it is very unlikely that the consultation has been completed. What appears to have happened is that the Government has been panicked into tabling its own amendment following a near identical one being tabled by Lord Avebury. Lord Avebury is a long-time secular campaigner, with whom the NSS works closely. The Government is determined that changes to blasphemy are made through their amendments, to give the appearance that they are in control.

The Bill is scheduled to be debated on Wednesday.

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