The parties in the governing coalition are divided on whether legislation forbidding blasphemy should be repealed. A majority of MPs are in
favour of scrapping the law. This makes it unclear how the question can be resolved as MPs cannot force the issue without causing a government crisis.
A motion to scrap the blasphemy law was tabled by the democrat party, D66, and supported by the coalition partner, Labour, and all opposition parties except for the small right-wing religious party, the SGP. However, the Christian Democrats and the
Christian Union, both members of the coalition, voted with the SGP to keep the law on the statute book.
Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin has already said he is in favour of repealing the blasphemy legislation. He wants to include religious groups in legislation designed to protect people from discrimination. However, it looks unlikely that such a
change would get the backing of a majority in parliament.
Despite a majority of MPs in the Dutch parliament wanting to repeal the country’s blasphemy law, the cabinet has decided that it must stay.
The decision follows a high court ruling earlier this year, in which a man was found not guilty of insulting an entire group of people on the grounds of their religion by hanging up a poster saying Stop the tumour that is Islam
The Government says that anti-discrimination legislation is inadequate.
Opposition MPs have submitted draft legislation to the Council of State advisory body to repeal the ban on blasphemy, the Volkskrant reported.
The ruling Labour party PvdA has already said it supports the change in the law, giving the proposal majority support in parliament.
Earlier this year justice minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin agreed to suspend the blasphemy laws and amend the discrimination legislation (article 137c) to make it a criminal offence to insult groups of people instead.
That plan followed a high court ruling earlier this year, in which a man was found not guilty of insulting an entire group of people on the grounds of their religion. He had hung up a poster with the text stop the tumour that is Islam ,
But MPs are still unhappy with the minister's proposals and have now drawn up their own legislation, the paper says.
Dutch plans to repeal a 1932 old style blasphemy law, which mandates a maximum sentence of three months in prison for a convicted
scornful blasphemer, have foundered in the latest round of party politics.
Governing parties have given up their hope to delete the law from Dutch jurisprudence in an apparent concession to a tiny fundamentalist Christian party, which emerged from elections this week holding the balance of power in the Senate, parliament's
less-powerful upper chamber.
Boris van der Ham, one of three lawmakers who proposed dumping the blasphemy law, called it a dead letter and a legal anachronism that no longer belongs in the progressive Netherlands. We don't think religious opinion should have more
protection than nonreligious opinion, he told The Associated Press.
But the strict Calvinist Political Reformed Party, or SGP, whose single senator now holds the key to success or failure for government legislation in the 75-seat Senate, thinks otherwise. The party's leader, Kees van der Staaij, is one of a minority
of people in this largely secular country of 16 million who publicly support the blasphemy law, which he calls the legal expression of the conviction that some things are holy. The name of God is holy, the party says on its website. Insulting
God, as he is portrayed in the Bible, must be combatted. The ban on blasphemy should be maintained.
But even though this old style blasphemy law has dropped into disuse, the Netherlands seem to have found a modern era replacement which talks in terms of insult and offence. The country's highest-profile court case of recent years has focussed on
allegedly hurtful comments made by maverick anti-Islam lawmaker Geert Wilders about Islam. Wilders is on trial in Amsterdam on charges of making statements insulting to Muslims as a group, and inciting hatred against Muslims.
Dutch lawmakers appear to be having second thoughts about scrapping the nation's blasphemy laws.
Despite a majority of parties in parliament agreeing in 2012 that the law should be scrapped, there now seems to be a rethink in order to placate minority religions . The blasphemy law makes it a crime to insult God, the monarch or to be
disrespectful to a policeman. The legislation was introduced in the 1930s and has not been invoked for the past fifty years.
The Dutch parliament originally concluded that it was a threat to the nation's much-cherished freedom of speech, but now political necessity may change all that.
Now the Nos Television channel reports that doubts are creeping in among leaders of both main political parties. In a debate on Tuesday in the upper house of parliament, or senate, Labour senator Nico Schrijver said that repealing blasphemy laws would
result in minorities feeling insufficiently protected against their religious sensibilities being hurt.
Some suspect that the real reason the coalition Government is backtracking is because it recently agreed to work more closely with the minor religious parties ChristenUnie and SGP to ensure majority support for its economic policies. Both these religious
parties strongly oppose ending the ban on blasphemy.
The senate will vote on the plan next Tuesday. The motion was passed by a large majority in the lower house of parliament.
Blasphemy will be removed from the Dutch statute books following a majority vote in the upper house of parliament on Tuesday.
However, a second motion was voted through which allows for another law to be found which can be adjusted to protect people from serious insult to their religion.
Last week, the coalition partners Labour and Liberal VVD said they had doubts about plans to scrap the blasphemy law. During last week's debate in the upper house of parliament, Labour senator Nico Schrijver questioned whether scrapping the blasphemy
laws would offer minorities sufficient protection against their religious sensibilities being hurt.
Blasphemy has been on the statute books since 1932.