The Spanish Association of Christian Lawyers (AEAC) presented a report in 2018 about the
legal protection of religious liberty in the European Union.” The report examines how
religious freedom is dealt with in most European Criminal Codes.
According to the report, presented on the 4th of October, the Criminal Codes of 22 of the 28 member states of the European Union penalise every offence against blasphemy and religious insult. There are however, six countries that “do not protect religious sentiments” and they are “responsible for 50% of the registered attacks against Christians.” These countries are France, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Croatia, Hungary, and Slovakia.
In fact, 75% of the States of the European Union are non-confessional, 21% are confessional whereas France is the only country that calls itself secular. Curiously, France is the country with the most significant number of hate attacks against Christians– 154 to be precise.
Recently, a Spanish court has been embroiled in legal proceedings against Willy Toledo, who committed a verbal attack against the Christian religion by insulting the Virgin Mary.
According to the report of AEAC, the Spanish jurisdiction is not the only one in Europe that punishes offences against religious sentiments. Blasphemy and anti-religious sentiments are forbidden in Italy, Germany, Portugal, Luxembourg and Latvia, and there are “ten countries in the EU, where any verbal or physical attack against religious liberty is more severely punished” than in Spain.
According to the Spanish Association of Christian Lawyers, the maximum penalty in Spain is about 12 months prison whereas the European average sentence is 17 months. The Christian Lawyers prepared a proposed bill that would “promote respect within society” suggesting that Spain should take the Canadian Criminal Code as a model. This would mean penalising those who committed religious insult or blasphemy yet ensuring that no one would be prosecuted for expressing his or her opinion on religious matters.
Finally, Polonia Castellanos, the president of the Spanish Association of Christian Lawyers, stated that crimes against religious sentiments should be classified as crimes not only in fundamentalist and confessional states, but also in the European Union, and in the whole world.