Doc. 10623

28 June 2005

Blasphemy, religious insults and hate speech against persons on grounds of their religion

Motion for a resolution

presented by Mrs Hurskainen and others

This motion has not been discussed in the Assembly and commits only the members who have signed it

1.       The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe reaffirms that there cannot be a democratic society without the fundamental right to freedom of expression and information. The progress of society and the development of every individual depend on the possibility of receiving and imparting information and ideas. This freedom is not only applicable to expressions that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive, but also to those that may shock, offend or disturb the state or any sector of population within the limits of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

2.       In the same vein, freedom of thought, conscience and religion constitutes a necessary requirement for a democratic society and one of the essential freedoms of individuals for determining their perception of human life and society. Conscience and religion are a basic component of human culture. Democratic pluralism and tolerance require that the religion and beliefs of individuals are respected as an area free from interference by the state or other individuals.

3.       Freedom of thought and freedom of expression in a democratic society must permit open debate on matters relating to religion and beliefs. Although religions may defend themselves against criticism or ridicule by stigmatising such action as blasphemy, it should not be penalised under criminal law. However, incitement to hatred and violence against persons on account of their belief or religion or other acts of hate speech against persons on grounds of their religion should be subject to criminal law penalties.

4.       The Assembly strongly rejects the justification or incitement of attacks on the physical integrity or other rights of individuals for having violated religious principles or insulted religious feelings. Freedom of thought, conscience and religion also requires tolerance of criticism of religions and beliefs.

Signed (see overleaf)

Signed 1:

HURSKAINEN, Sinikka, Finland, SOC

BARGHOLTZ, Helena, Sweden, ALDE

COX, Thomas, United Kingdom, SOC


GAJDŮŠKOVÁ, Alena, Czech Republic, SOC

GLĂVAN, Stefan, Romania, NR

HOOPER, Gloria, United Kingdom, EDG

KOCHARYAN, Shavarsh, Armenia, ALDE

RUGĀTE, Anta, Latvia, EPP/CD

SCHIEDER, Peter, Austria, SOC

van THIJN, Ed, Netherlands, SOC

ZINGERIS, Emanuelis, Lithuania, EDG

1        SOC: Socialist Group

      EPP/CD: Group of the European People’s Party

      ALDE: Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe

      EDG: European Democratic Group

      UEL: Group of the Unified European Left

      NR: not registered in a group