Posts Tagged ‘John Major’

Read more uk_censorship_history.htm at MelonFarmers.co.uk

major Newly-released government papers reveal that prime minister John Major considered abrogating from the European Convention on Human Rights if it ruled against Britain in a case involving the film Visions of Ecstasy being banned for blasphemy — Visions of Ecstasy. Documents also revealed that Major was an admirer of Mary Whitehouse.Nigel Wingrove’s 18-minute film depicted Carmelite nun St Teresa’s sexual fantasies about Jesus on the cross, and it was banned by the BBFC, making it the first and only film to be banned in the UK for blasphemy.

When film director Wingrove applied to challenge the ban at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), arguing it breached his freedom of expression, Major responded in a document dated August 1994 sent to senior government figures. Major wrote:

I must make it clear that I would not tolerate a position which required the Government or the BBFC to grant a certificate to this film or to others of a similar type.

This is a matter on which I feel sufficiently strongly to be prepared to consider a derogation from the European Convention on Human Rights if that were to be necessary in the final analysis. I must say I find the position in which we find ourselves wholly unacceptable.

In a reply, then Foreign Secretary Douglas Hurd warned about doing anything likely to weaken the fabric of the convention, adding that:

We cannot, in practice, derogate from it except in cases of war or threats to the life of the nation.

Actually it turned out that the UK’s blasphemy laws were backed by the ECHR when it threw out Wingate’s challenge two years later.

Visions of Ecstacy was finally given an 18-rated certificate in 2012 after the common law offence of blasphemous libel was abolished in England and Wales in 2008.

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