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.
Wed, 22 Apr 2015 18:45
Queen's University Belfast has cancelled an event on the fallout from the attack on Charlie Hebdo, citing fears over the university's "reputation" and "security" if the talk went ahead.
Sat, 28 Mar 2015 15:12
The National Secular Society has awarded Charlie Hebdo the annual Secularist of the Year prize, for its courageous response to the terror attack on its Paris office.
Wed, 25 Mar 2015 16:21
Jordan has introduced an emergency item to the next meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union, calling for a ban on insulting religion or religious symbols.
Mon, 23 Mar 2015 16:28
Street preacher Michael Overd has been found guilty of using "threatening" or "abusive" words after making homophobic remarks during a sermon delivered in Taunton High Street.
“Be Careful With Mohammed”: Muslim Action Forum launches “legal strategy” to stop publication of insults to Mohammed
Tue, 03 Mar 2015 16:50