Freedom of Expression

Freedom of speech is a pillar of an open and inclusive society. Criticism of religion and religious privilege requires the ability to speak freely without fear of government censorship.

We are a member of the International Coalition Against Blasphemy Laws and call upon governments around the world to repeal blasphemy laws and other laws that prevent criticism of religion. Section 296 of the Criminal Code of Canada declares that "blasphemous libel" is an indictable offence. We call on the Canadian Government to repeal this outdated blasphemy law.

 

Latest news


Repealing Canada's other blasphemy law

For over a decade, supporters of free expression have been calling for the repeal of section 296 of Canada’s Criminal Code. This section is colloquially called Canada’s blasphemy law as it prohibits “blasphemous libel”. While no one has been charged under the section in eighty years, it remains a symbol that theocratic...

Canadian Government tables bill to repeal blasphemy law

Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould today introduced a bill to repeal Canada's blasphemy law. The bill would also remove other outdated and unconstitutional provisions of the Criminal Code, strengthen protections for victims of sexual assault and require new government bills to include a Charter Statement explaining its impact on Canadian's rights. Section...

Blasphemy isn't just a problem in the Muslim world

Ireland’s state police recently concluded their investigation of comedian Stephen Fry, who stood accused of criminal blasphemy.  In an interview that aired on Irish public television, Fry had described God as “capricious, mean-minded, stupid,” and “an utter maniac.” And Ireland’s Defamation Act of 2009 clearly prohibits the “publication or utterance of blasphemous...

CRA recommends unmuzzling charities

The BC Humanist Association joins leading Canadian charities in applauding a report released today that calls for a regulatory and legislative overhaul "to enable charities to fully participate in public policy dialogue and development." The coalition of charities, formed in response to the political activities audits under the previous government, had...

Danish blasphemy case demonstrates risk of Canada's law

A man is facing blasphemy charges after allegedly burning a copy of the Quran for an online video posted to an anti-Islam group in December 2015. The prosecution marks the first time in 45 years that Denmark has invoked the law. The last accusations were brought against a radio station...

Justice Minister to review Canada's blasphemy law

Canada's blasphemy law is under review by the Minister of Justice and could be repealed as part of broader justice reform. Jody Wilson-Raybould made the commitment in her response to a petition signed by nearly 7500 people calling on the government to repeal section 296 (the prohibition on blasphemous libel)...

Blasphemy laws get used for political purposes

Editor's note: While Canada's latent blasphemy law isn't explicitly mentioned in this article, we must continue to fight for it's repeal as these stories highlight how, under the right political climate, it could be used to censor opposition. By Rafiqa Qurrata A'yun, University of Indonesia The Indonesian police recently named the Chinese-Indonesian...

Silenced: How non-religious charities are being censored by the CRA

The BC Humanist Association has published its submission to the Canada Revenue Agency's (CRA) online consultation on charities' political activities. Restrictions on charities political activities came under scrutiny under the previous government and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberals campaigned on revising those rules. However, at its core, Canada's charity law dates...

International Blasphemy Rights Day 2016

Today is International Blasphemy Rights Day – a day to remember the publishing of the Danish Mohammed cartoons ten years ago that sparked several violent protests across the world. It’s still an important day for advocates for freedom of expression as people are still being imprisoned and murdered for criticizing beliefs and art critical of...

City of Victoria proclaims International Blasphemy Rights Day

At its council meeting yesterday, the City of Victoria agreed 3-2 to proclaim September 30, 2016 as International Blasphemy Rights Day. The BC Humanist Association requested the proclamation as part of its support for freedom of expression; however, the council did amend the proclamation to remove a section challenging the...

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