By Kara Fox
Irish voters head to the polls Friday where they will be asked to vote on removing the offense of blasphemy from the constitution.
The referendum on blasphemy is the most recent in a series of referendums poised to reflect the nation’s continued trajectory into a secular, diverse society.
The referendum, which takes place on the same day as Ireland’s presidential election, will ask the public whether to remove the word “blasphemous” from Article 40 of the constitution, which reads: “The publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter is an offence which shall be punishable in accordance with law.”
Although the nation’s blasphemy ban was enshrined in the constitution in 1937, no one has ever been prosecuted under it.
In 1995, a member of the public lodged a blasphemy case against the Sunday Independent newspaper, which had printed a cartoon of government ministers refusing the Catholic sacrament of communion. Ireland’s Supreme Court eventually threw out the case in 1999, ruling that although blasphemy was technically a crime, there was no law to enforce it.
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