A victory for satire | Germany overturns its law against insulting foreign leaders

A victory for satire

Germany overturns its law against insulting foreign leaders

Germany is to revoke the law that stopped comedians insulting foreign heads of state.

The move comes after Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan demanded satirist Jan Böhmermann be prosecuted under the ‘lèse-majesté’ rules over a poem which depicted him having Sex with Animals and children.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed to launch an investigation against the comic – which was seen as kowtowing to the Turkish leader in exchange for co-operation in dealing with refugees.

The public prosecutor later threw out the case stating Böhmermann’s claims were ‘exaggerated and absurd’ and not meant to be taken seriously. However, Erdogan still has a civil dispute pending against the comedian.

Now Justice Minister Heiko Maas has said: ‘The idea of lèse-majesté dates back to a long-gone era, it no longer belongs in our criminal law. The regulation is obsolete and unnecessary.’

The German Federal Government said: ‘It is no longer appropriate in this day and age to think that representatives of a foreign state require any greater protection of their honour… than that laid out for insulting any other persons.’

The law – Section 103 of the German Criminal Code – is to be dropped by the end of the year.

Published: 27 Jan 2017

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