09:16 GMT30 March 2020
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    The Irish Saturday referendum to lift a constitutional ban on blasphemy coincided with a presidential election which saw incumbent Michael D. Higgins win a second term in one of the lowest voter turnouts in the nation's history.

    Irish voters were asked whether they would agree to the removal of the crime of blasphemy from the Irish constitution. The blasphemy ban was subsequently overturned, with 65 percent of voters in favor, following recent votes to allow abortion and same-sex marriages, AFP reported, citing local media.

    According to the Irish constitution, the 1937 blasphemy provision made "matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion" punishable by up to $28,500 (25,000 euros).

    In practice, the legislation was obsolete from the day it was decreed, and there have reportedly been no successful prosecutions in the history of the modern Irish state, established in 1922.

    The blasphemy ban sparked public backlash in 2015 when local police were forced to investigate British TV personality Stephen Fry's labeling of 'God' as "stupid" during a televised interview. A police later told the Irish Independent newspaper that the case had been abandoned because they failed to find "a substantial number of outraged people" as required by the 1939 law.

    READ MORE: Theresa May Under Pressure Amid Ireland Abortion Referendum

    "It has always been my view that there is no room for a provision such as this in our constitution. Ireland is rightly proud of our reputation as a modern, liberal society," Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said, cited by AFP.

    Exit polls and early results indicated the measure to eliminate the blasphemy ban was backed by more than two-thirds of Irish voters.


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    elimination, blasphemy ban, constitution, vote, Ireland
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