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.
Act of 24 February2006No. 85 2 Quad. Dir. Pol. Eccl. (2006); Antonio G. Chizzoniti ‘La tutela penale delle confessioni religiose: prime note alla legge n. 85 del 2006 «modifiche al codice penale in materia di reati d’opinione» in ibid. pp. 437–450.
Const. Court 14 November1997No. 329 3 Quad. Dir. Pol. Eccl. (1998); Const. Court 18 October 1995 No. 440 3 Quad. Dir. Pol. Eccl. (1995).
Supreme Court (Cass. Pen.) 11 December2008No. 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.
Trib. Padova 14 June2005s.n. 3 Quad. Dir. Pol. Eccl. (2005).
Const. Court 17 July2000No. 293 Giur. Cost. (2000) p. 2244; Const. Court 9 July 1992 No. 368 Giur. Cost. (1992) p. 2941. See Pierangela Floris ‘Libertà religiosa e libertà di espressione artistica’ 1 Quad. Dir. Pol. Eccl. (2008) pp. 175–196.
Supreme Court (Cass. Pen.) 17 November2010No. 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).
Trib. Latina 24 October 2006 No.17253Quad. 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.
Art. 2.5 Act 8 March1989No. 101 Barberini supra note 17.
Act of 13 October1975No. 654 (g.u. n. 337 23.12.1975).
Act of 25 June1993No. 205 (g.u. n. 148 26.06.1993).