Freedom of expression
The National Secular Society robustly challenges religious threats to free expression. The Society's 140 year campaign to abolish the blasphemy law in England succeeded in 2008 and we continue to campaign to resist blasphemy laws in other parts of the world where in some places conviction can carry the death penalty.
Our latest campaign sets out to reform Section 5 of the Public Order Act to remove the word 'insulting'. We believe the removal of 'insulting' would afford greater protection to freedom of expression – for both the religious and non-religious.
We campaign vigorously against all attempts to restrict free speech and artistic expression, and in 2006 were instrumental in ensuring the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill was amended to protect free speech.
We campaigned when attempts were made to ban the showing of Jerry Springer the Opera on the BBC, and the show was eventually broadcast.
The NSS has been in the forefront of efforts to oppose the modification of the United Nations Human Rights Charter by Islamic nations that would render it ineffective, and even counterproductive, in the area of free speech.
The current attempt to make 'defamation of religion' a crime would prevent and punish any criticism or questioning of religious belief and practices - even those that contravene current Human Rights.
If religion — any religion — is off-limits for open debate we are in a very dangerous situation. And if it is off-limits because of perceived threats from radicals, then it is even more dangerous. It is capitulation to terrorism.
Everyone should be allowed to speak freely, whatever their beliefs as only in the public arena can contentious ideas be debated and, if necessary, exposed and countered.
Tue, 20 May 2014 13:44
The Council of the European Union has adopted human rights guidelines on Freedom of Expression Online and Offline.
Mon, 31 Mar 2014 17:11
Greater Manchester Police have awarded a Christian street preacher £13,000 in compensation after he was put in a cell, without food and water for 19 hours, for preaching against homosexuality.
Thu, 13 Mar 2014 13:25
The BBC has controversially dropped a debate on homosexuality from a live panel discussion show because of objections from Birmingham Central Mosque in which the programme was being filmed.
Tue, 18 Feb 2014 11:19
French Islamists are suing the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo for blasphemy after it published a front cover carrying the slogan "The Koran is crap, it doesn't stop bullets".
Thu, 30 Jan 2014 13:48
Channel 4 has responded to criticism of its censorship of the Jesus & Mo cartoon by saying it did not want to cause offence to its audience.