The nation of Ireland is going to hold a public referendum on whether to repeal their blasphemy law, which dates back centuries. In fact, no one has been convicted under it in more than 150 years. The problem is that they may just end up taking a giant step sideways:
Junior Minister Aodhán Ó’Ríordáin told the Dáil: “The Government accepts the main recommendation of the [Constitutional Convention], which is that a referendum should be held on removing the offence of blasphemy from the Constitution.”
The law defines blasphemy as publishing or saying something “grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matter held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion.”…The Labour TD said it hadn’t been decided yet whether the constitutional amendment would simply remove the crime of blasphemy, or replace it with a ban on incitement to religious hatred.
It’s equally unclear whether the ban on blasphemy (as found in the Defamation Act) would remain law, or be replaced by an offence of incitement to religious hatred.
That would be a distinction without a difference. A ban on “incitement to religious hatred” is, in fact, a blasphemy law.