Blasphemy Laws and Incitement to Religious Hatred: Italian Legal Standards and Social Developments

in Religion & Human Rights
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Focusing on the Italian legal system, this article aims to explore old and new legal remedies applicable to cases of religious hatred. Traditionally, institutional religions are granted legal protection through criminal sanctions of blasphemy. Included in the Criminal Code since 1889 and revised in 2006, norms regarding blasphemy are conceived to protect religious feelings, which are considered as part of the inner conscience of the faithful as well as an element of collective religious identity. However, social developments and an increasingly multicultural and multi-religious society reveal questions and issues that need to be legally addressed. One of the most controversial of these is the intertwining of race and religion as grounds for hate discourse, which must be tackled through specific legal instruments, banning racial, ethnic and religious hate speech and intolerance.

Blasphemy Laws and Incitement to Religious Hatred: Italian Legal Standards and Social Developments

in Religion & Human Rights

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References

6

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27

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Const. Court 14 November 1997No. 329 3 Quad. Dir. Pol. Eccl. (1998); Const. Court 18 October 1995 No. 440 3 Quad. Dir. Pol. Eccl. (1995).

31

Supreme Court (Cass. Pen.) 11 December 2008No. 10535 3 Quad. Dir. Pol. Eccl. (2009). See Luigi Lacroce ‘La tutela penale del sentimento religioso nella giurisprudenza della Corte di Cassazione’ 3/4 Il Diritto Ecclesiastico (2012) pp. 663–679.

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36

Supreme Court (Cass. Pen.) 17 November 2010No. 7017 3 Quad. Dir. Pol. Eccl. (2011). The Supreme Court ruled about an expression of contempt to a former priest because of his decision to leave his status of clergyman (‘prete spretato’) claiming that it was an offence to individual honour Supreme Court (Cass. Pen.) 21 March 2006 No. 9788 3 Quad. Dir. Pol. Eccl. (2006).

38

Trib. Latina 24 October 2006 No. 17253 Quad. Dir. Pol. Eccl. (2007); Placido Siracusano ‘Vilipendio religioso e satira: «nuove» incriminazioni e «nuove» soluzioni giurisprudenziali’ in: ibid. pp. 997–1008. Since 1993 journalists have a Code of Conduct which requires them to refrain from discrimination on racial or religious grounds. Journalists who do not comply with the Code are liable to disciplinary proceedings. An analogous Code for advertisement is in force from 1966; the Committee established by the Code has been in charge of a number of religious related cases where religious feelings were infringed.

41

Art. 2.5 Act 8 March 1989No. 101 Barberini supra note 17.

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Act of 13 October 1975No. 654 (g.u. n. 337 23.12.1975).

46

Act of 25 June 1993No. 205 (g.u. n. 148 26.06.1993).

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Supreme Court (Cass. Pen.) 7 May 2008No. 37581 3 Quad. Dir. Pol. Eccl. (2009).

51

Supreme Court (Cass. Pen.) 28 March 2008No. 13234 3 Quad. Dir. Pol. Eccl. (2008).

53

Supreme Court (Cass. Pen.) 8 January 2010No. 286 3 Quad. Dir. Pol. Eccl. (2010); Supreme Court (Cass. Pen.) 10 January 2002 No. 7421 3 Quad. Dir. Pol. Eccl. (2003); Supreme Court (Cass. Pen.) 5 December 2005 No. 44295 3 Quad. Dir. Pol. Eccl. (2006).

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Supreme Court (Cass. Pen.) 13 March 2012No. 20508 3 Quad. Dir. Pol. Eccl. (2012).

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Supreme Court (Cass. Pen.) 21 June 2005No. 26804 3 Quad. Dir. Pol. Eccl. (2006).

56

Act of 18 March 2008No. 48.

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