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.
Mon, 16 Nov 2015 10:06
Labour MP Keith Vaz has expressed his support for the reintroduction of UK blasphemy laws – provided they "apply equally to everybody."
Mon, 09 Nov 2015 14:12
The NSS has written to a cinema urging it to reconsider its cancellation of the planned screening of a biopic about Mohammed, after a small petition of Muslims from the UK, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria said it was "unacceptable".
Fri, 30 Oct 2015 12:04
A new campaign to oppose the Government's controversial plans for Extremism Disruption Orders (EDOs) has been officially launched in Parliament.
Thu, 29 Oct 2015 10:44
Turkey's most famous modern pianist has been awarded the International Secularism Prize (Prix de la Laïcité) by the France Committee of Secularism, two years after being convicted of blasphemy for a series of tweets.
Wed, 21 Oct 2015 13:34
Baroness O'Neill, chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, has warned that there is no way of securing freedom of expression and a right not to be offended.