While I was reading these fantastic news, I couldn’t help notice Colombia is glaringly absent on the map showing which countries have blasphemy laws.
Now, I’m not a Wikipedia expert (I tried editing something a few years ago, and failed miserably), but I have been doing secular activism in Colombia for the past seven years so I’m not exactly ignorant about laws regarding religion in my country. And I can tell you for a fact, there is an actual law that punishes blasphemy in Colombia.
Enter Colombia Criminal Code (the underlining is mine):
Section 203. Damages or offenses against persons or things destined for worship. Anyone who causes damage to objects destined for a cult, or to symbols of any legally permitted religion, or publicly aggrieves such cults or their members by reason of their investiture, shall incur a fine.
To my knowledge, no one has ever been punished for damaging symbols of any religion or publicly aggrieving a cult under this law… yet — not that they haven’t tried, though.
The thing is this Criminal Code is quite new, actually: it was enacted in 2000, so maybe that has to do with the fact that no one has been convicted of this crime. At least to my knowledge.
Colombia has crappy laws about freedom of religion for when it became a secular country in 1991, evangelical Christians seized the opportunity and lobbied for laws riddled with religious privilege — for instance, in Colombia, by law, freedom of religion is not afforded to Satanists, Wiccans, Spiritism believers, and otherwise “magical or superstitious practices”. (Yeah, the irony, it burns!) But I digress…
I don’t know why Colombia is not on the map of countries that punish blasphemy, but I’m pretty sure it belongs there. Colombian Government couldn’t care less about secularism, but Colombian politicians do care about how the world sees us. So I thought I could help set the record straight, and have the country in the right category, for that’s the first step to —hopefully— having Colombian blasphemy law struck down.