Actor Stephen Fry could be prosecuted in 49 countries around the world, over something he did last month.
We’re not referring to his much-discussed wedding to comedian Elliott Spencer, but his remarks about God.
The QI host – who is an atheist – told Irish broadcaster RTE that if God existed, he would be “evil”, “stupid” and “a maniac”, for creating a world that is “so full of injustice and pain”.
Pavan Dhaliwal of the British Humanist Association wrote in the Independent that Fry’s comments are technically illegal in Ireland, and would also be criminal in a vast number of countries across the world.
She said: “Blasphemy is illegal in 49 countries.
“In many countries, these laws are used to stifle free expression and promote a climate of fear and punishment for people of minority religious and non-religious groups.
“It’s shocking to think that the televised interview of Stephen Fry, which stimulated such an interesting array of reactions and discussions here in Britain, could lead to criminal sanctions against him in many countries.
“And though it is unlikely that Ireland will choose to prosecute Stephen under its blasphemy law, shouldn’t it be a source of moral disgust that it could, if it chose to?
“The very presence of blasphemy in law presents a threat to the rights of ordinary people of all beliefs and backgrounds – be they humanists, Christians, Muslims, or simply people whose political views differ from the government’s.”
At 49, the number of countries which criminalise blasphemy is slightly lower than the 78 where Fry could instead be jailed for being gay.