House of Lords written question – answered on 3rd July 2013.

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Photo of Lord Hylton Lord Hylton Crossbench

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will make representations, both bilaterally and in international fora, about reviewing blasphemy laws to bring them into line with agreed human rights standards.

Photo of Baroness Warsi Baroness Warsi Senior Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Jointly with the Department for Communities and Local Government), Senior Minister of State (Department for Communities and Local Government) (Faith and Communities) (also in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

The Government is deeply concerned by the misuse of blasphemy laws which can result in limitations on freedom of expression and often disproportionately affect minority groups. We strongly believe that the death penalty or physical punishment can never be an appropriate or proportionate penalty for blasphemy. Where blasphemy laws do exist we call on states to bring them into line with agreed human rights standards. As an example, I raised my concerns about the misuse of blasphemy laws in Pakistan with the government ministers I met during my visit there last November. We also work in international fora with EU colleagues and at the UN to lobby against laws that criminalise blasphemy.

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