The blasphemy referendum on October 26 – all you need to know in two minutes

What is blasphemy? 

An insult or a lack of reverence to a god or a sacred thing.  Examples:  The term “Oh my God” is blasphemy in strict terms; while use of the acronym “OMG” is not.  Any visual depiction of the Prophet Mohammed is generally regarded as blasphemy.

Why is there a referendum?

The Constitution of Ireland (article 40.6.1) makes blasphemy a crime.  But we have not enforced it since 1855.  The referendum on October 26th proposes removal of the word “blasphemous” from the article which reads “The publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter is an offence which shall be punishable in accordance with law.”

Essentially the referendum will decide if the Constitution should continue to say that publishing or saying something blasphemous is a criminal offence.


Voting and polling card: 

You need a polling card to vote, which you will receive in the post this week, but only if you are registered to vote. If you are unsure, try The polling card tells you where to vote.  If you are a student, you must vote in person at the polling station, you cannot vote by post. Bring identification to the polling station with the card.

After the referendum- the result:

If the Referendum is upheld the word will be removed from the article and blasphemy will no longer be a criminal offence.  In the event of a NO vote, the Constitution will continue to state that publishing or saying something blasphemous is a criminal offence.  Also note this does not relate to Defamation which is a separate crime related to false information.


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