Ireland to vote on removing blasphemy as an offense

DUBLIN (Reuters) - Ireland will hold a referendum in October to remove the offense of blasphemy from its constitution, Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan said on Tuesday.

The Irish government has approved preparing a bill to remove blasphemy as part of a commitment to constitutional reforms. The referendum will probably be held on the same day as the presidential election.

Government ministers see last month’s abortion referendum as a milestone on a path to change for a country that was one of Europe’s most socially conservative a few decades ago, and are keen to push forward with other constitutional reforms.

After the blasphemy referendum, a vote on a controversial reference in the constitution to a “woman’s life within the home” is likely.

“In terms of Ireland’s international reputation, this is an important step,” Flanagan said in a press release on Tuesday.

“By removing this provision from our Constitution, we can send a strong message to the world that laws against blasphemy do not reflect Irish values and that we do not believe such laws should exist.”

Reporting by Graham Fahy, editing by Larry King