Blasphemous libel

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Blasphemous libel is an old common law offence, consisting of the publication of material that exposes the Christian religion to scurrility, vilification, ridicule and contempt, and has the tendency to shock and outrage the feelings of Christians.

In 1976 Mary Whitehouse successfully brought a private prosecution for blasphemous libel against Denis Lemon and Gay News over the poem "The Love that Dares to Speak its Name" by James Kirkup, the first time the law had been used for many years.

The offence was abolished in England and Wales by the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008. It remains an offence in Northern Ireland.

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