Blasphemy law is a law limiting the freedom of speech and expression relating to blasphemy, or irreverence toward holy personages, religious artifacts, customs, or beliefs. Blasphemy laws are sometimes used to protect the religious beliefs of a majority, while in other cases, they serve to offer protection of the religious beliefs of minorities.
Where blasphemy laws systematically target an identifiable section of the community with severe penalties that may include imprisonment or death they are a crime against humanity and those who enact or enforce such laws are liable for prosecution for such crimes in the International Criminal Court. See Article 7 (h) of the Rome Statute.
In addition to prohibitions against blasphemy or blasphemous libel, blasphemy laws include laws which give redress to those who feel insulted on account of their religion. These laws, which may forbid the vilification of religion, “religious insult”, defamation of religion, denigration of religion, offending religious feelings, contempt of religion, or use other similar language, are blasphemy laws. In some jurisdictions blasphemy laws include hate speech laws that extend beyond prohibiting the imminent incitement of hatred and violence.