Blasphemy Film Ban Backed by Europe

By Patricia Wynn Davies Strasbourg | The Independent (London, England), November 26, 1996 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Blasphemy Film Ban Backed by Europe


Patricia Wynn Davies Strasbourg, The Independent (London, England)


Free-speech activists, humanists and lawyers united in fury yesterday after the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the ancient law of blasphemy does not infringe the right to freedom of expression.

In a ruling that appeared to bend over backwards in Britain's favour, the Strasbourg judges declared by a seven-two majority that the fact that the archaic law did not treat all religions on an equal footing did not affect its legitimacy.

The judges said that "a wider margin of appreciation" was available to states in relation to matters "liable to offend intimate personal convictions in the sphere of morals or religion", as they declared that the ban on Nigel Wingrove's film Visions of Ecstasy did not breach Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Mr Wingrove's case was that the law not only interfered with the film director's right to freedom of speech but was discriminatory, because it did not cover the many religions practised in the United Kingdom other than Christianity. The 20-minute video, depicting the erotic visions of St Teresa of Avila, was seven years ago refused a certificate by the British Board of Film Classification, whose decision was upheld by the Video Appeals Committee. Mr Wingrove, 39, said: "I was told it would go against me because it has become very political now." The combination of an earlier blasphemy ruling in favour of Austria and the Lord Chancellor's visit yesterday to Strasbourg told against him, he said, even though the Church of England had never called for him to be prosecuted. Mark Stephens, of Mr Wingrove's solicitors Stephens Innocent, said the decision was "very worrying". When the case had been argued the court was "buzzing" over the position statement put out by Malcolm Rifkind, the Foreign Secretary, last year about the Government's attitude to the court.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Blasphemy Film Ban Backed by Europe
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?