Illegal to “Vilify” Religion (in a European Union Member, No Less)

Malta Criminal Code §§ 163-164 provides that,

163. Whosoever by words, gestures, written matter, whether printed or not, or pictures or by some other visible means, publicly vilifies the Roman Catholic Apostolic Religion which is the religion of Malta, or gives offence to the Roman Catholic Apostolic Religion by vilifying those who profess such religion or its ministers, or anything which forms the object of, or is consecrated to, or is necessarily destined for Roman Catholic worship, shall, on conviction, be liable to imprisonment for a term from one to six months.

164. Whosoever commits any of the acts referred to in the last preceding article against any cult tolerated by law, shall, on conviction, be liable to imprisonment for a term from one to three months.

The Malta Court of Criminal Appeal just interpreted this, and concluded,

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. Cross reference: The Police v. Rokku Abdilla et Criminal Court 13/01/1962.

So the ban on religion-vilifying speech remains, and the Maltese courts appear to be willing to enforce it. Thanks to Religion Clause for the pointer.