VVD drops bill to decriminalise blasphemy

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The conservative governing VVD party has withdrawn its support for a draft bill that would decriminalise blasphemy.

The draft bill was submitted under the previous government, in late 2009, by the the democrat party D66, the Socialist Party and the VVD itself, all three then in the opposition.

Critics say the move, which was revealed two days before Monday’s Senate elections, aims to obtain support from the small Calvinist SGP party in case the coalition loses its majority in the Senate tomorrow.

The bill would repeal article 147 of the Penal Code, which imposes fines, prison terms and other penalties, including redundancy, on people found guilty of insulting God, religion, clergy or religious objects.

Christian Democrat Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner wanted to revive the bill, introduced by his grandfather Jan Donner in 1932, following the murder of anti-Islam filmmaker Theo van Gogh in 2004.

Back in 2009, the three parties that proposed the bill argued that the Penal Code’s article is discriminatory in that it gives religious views greater legal protection than non-religious views.

D66 MP Boris van der Ham revealed the news that the VVD had withdrawn its support for the bill on Saturday evening in a television programme.

Speaking in the same programme, SGP Senator Gerrit Holdijk admitted that his party would be more inclined to support the cabinet if it delayed or dropped this proposal and similar ones.

If the VVD-CDA minority coalition, along with Geert Wilders’ populist Freedom Party, which backs it in parliament, loses its majority in Monday’s Senate elections, the SGP could make the difference.  

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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