Thursday, December 16, 2010

New South Wales' Blasphemy Statute

Below is the text of the blasphemy statute for the Australian State of New South Wales. I've often seen this referred to as a statute that abolishes the crime of blasphemy in the jurisdiction, but if you read it closely it actually only limits prosecutions to occasions where there is "scoffing or reviling", "violating public decency", or "manner tending to a breach of the peace". Since these criteria can often be found in traditional common law blasphemy prosecutions, the statute may not accomplish very much in the way of safeguarding freedom of speech.

Source: Crimes Act 1900 No. 40 s. 574 (valid as of July 9, 2010)
574. Prosecutions for blasphemy

No person shall be liable to prosecution in respect of any publication by him or her orally, or otherwise, of words or matter charged as blasphemous, where the same is by way of argument, or statement, and not for the purpose of scoffing or reviling, nor of violating public decency, nor in any matter tending to a breach of the peace.

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