Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Malta Court Interprets Ban On Vilifying Catholic Church

Section 163 of Malta's Criminal Code outlaws publicly vilifying the Roman Catholic Apostolic religion (the country's official religion), or those connected with it. The Police v. Rokku Abdilla, (Ct. Cr. App., Oct. 23, 2009), a decision handed down last week by Malta's Court of Criminal Appeal, interprets this provision. Here is a summary of the holding from the Judiciary of Malta's website:
The mere fact of dressing up as nun, even if for carnival, but without wearing any religious symbol, cannot reasonably be considered as amounting to public vilification of the Roman Catholic Religion, or of those belonging to such religion, or of its ministers, or of anything which forms the object of, or is consecrated to, or is necessarily destined for Roman Catholic worship. However, if the wearing of such a habit were accompanied with such circumstances of fact, words or gestures which objectively amount to vilification, then there would be an offence in terms of article 163.
Here is the full text of the decision in Maltese.