Monday, March 10, 2008

More good news - blasphemy's gone

Only just found out almost by accident that the House of Lords has accepted a Government amendment to remove the law on blasphemy.

This is good news, although the passage of the Human Rights Act ensures the law on blasphemy can never be used in any case and the Government was clear it was a dead letter - an attempt to bring a case against Jerry Springer the Opera was described as "bordering on the vexatious" by the judge hearing the case. The law on incitement to religious hatred is another reason given for making the move - we have a law protecting believers of different faiths rather than protecting one religion.

The official line from bishops was that they accepted the change and wouldn't vote against it (though some did) but felt that it wasn't the right time to make the change......

Other Lords (some of whom are well known from other debates - e.g. Baroness O'Cathain, who's somewhat of a regular speaker on such matters) opposed the move, some of them refering to the risk there would be a deluge of anti-Christian attacks.

The House of Lords debate is well worth reading as some of the speeches are very well informed.

The blasphemy law was of course famously used against Gay News for inclusion of a thought provoking poem called 'The Love that dare not speak its Name', which lead to the closure of Gay News.

The text of the poem is here (first time I've ever been able to read it, though on doing so I must admit to having some sympathy with the original trial judge on the matter and I definitely think it is outrageous in the offence it will have caused to many believers and straightway we're back onto the territory of thinking about the Danish cartoons and the reaction that had caused).

The whole House of Lords debate can be seen here.

Baroness Andrews' introduction and summing up.

Baroness O'Cathain here

Commentary from the Guardian - When blasphemy bit the dust.

Although a little used law, it's good to get it off the Statute Book before people start using it again.

Spanish elections

Good news for Spanish socialists who have been re-elected with a slight increase in their number of seats, but with the right also making gains. Near final results see PSOE with 169 seats out of 350, with the opposition PP on 154, though the socialists do have allies they can rely on.

This is interesting for many reasons including the fact that the socialist government has legislated for same sex marriage including adoption with a ferocious opposition from the Roman Catholic Church on this and a number of other issues.

And yet it seems the election result this time is almost a replay of the election last time.

One other thing is that the decision on same sex marriage did not seem to be the major part of the campaign where the focus seemed to have been on terrorism, separatism and the economy.

So there are big implications for the Catholic Church in how it 'comments' on elections.

Interesting opinion poll here from Angus Reid website ( - great for any kind of opinion poll) showing 75% of Spaniards supporting the law on same sex marriage, with 18% opposed to the law.

Commentary here from

Other good news - in the French municipal elections the Parti Socialiste seems to be in a good position to retake a number of towns including Strasbourg where I lived when the socialists retook it in 1989 amidst posters from the right proclaiming "Strasbourg ne sera jamais socialiste".

Always good to see socialists winning.....