The decision by the High Court not to allow a prosecution against BBC Director-General Mark Thompson, for blasphemy to go ahead has been welcomed by Christians and Humanists.
Stephen Green of the group Christian Voice, had attempted to use the blasphemy law to prosecute Mark Thompson, well known for his own Christian faith, over the BBC’s screening of Jerry Springer – The Opera in 2005.
However, the move also led for calls for the blasphemy law to be abolished. The thinktank Ekklesia was amongst those calling for the law to be repealed, and were backed by amongst others, the former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey.
Naomi Phillips, Public Affairs Officer for the British Humanist Association said: "We welcome the sensible decision by the High Court not to allow this case to go forward. The blasphemy laws in the UK – which protect Christian beliefs – are clearly contrary to the principle of free speech and probably contrary to human rights laws which protect freedom of expression, and that must include the right to criticise beliefs, religious or otherwise. The blasphemy laws are anomalies in the context of our increasingly diverse and increasingly non-religious society. The UK’s law seeks to protect people and their rights to their beliefs, but not to protect the beliefs themselves."
Ms Phillips continued: "In a free society we must be allowed to criticise religious doctrines and practices, even if that offends some people. Hopefully today’s ruling will bring back to public debate the need to abolish the outdated blasphemy laws that clearly have no place in Britain today."