A MOVE to scrap Scotland’s centuries-old blasphemy law has been backed by the SNP’s ruling body, meaning repealing the legislation is now party policy.

The Confession of Faith Ratification Act 1690, which outlaws blasphemy, was last used in Scotland in 1843 to convict Edinburgh bookseller Thomas Paterson who was jailed for selling blasphemous literature.

A resolution to the SNP’s national council, passed at its meeting on Saturday, called for there to be no possibility that anyone now, or in the future, could be prosecuted.

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The motion, by the party’s Leith branch, said that Scotland is lagging behind other European nations, adding that laws are still invoked in many places to “criminalise freedom of belief and expression”.

Last year, actor and comedian Stephen Fry was investigated by police in Ireland for blasphemy after he called God “stupid” and a “maniac” on an Irish TV show in 2015. The probe was eventually stopped.

Scottish Green’s co-convener Patrick Harvie was accused of blasphemy by Donald Trump in 2012. The matter did not go to court but the parliamentary standards commissioner launched a probe, clearing the Glasgow MSP.

In Pakistan, Facebook user Taimoor Raza, was handed a death sentence by an anti-terrorism court after making a post that made “derogatory” remarks about the Prophet Muhammad and his family.

The SNP motion called for “the abolition of the archaic common law crimes of blasphemy, heresy and profanity to the extent that they remain law in Scotland.

“Council believes that such a move will strengthen Scotland’s capacity to speak out against human rights abuses under the guise of blasphemy and heresy elsewhere in the world, as well as removing once and for all the possibility that the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal service could prosecute on such grounds here.”

The party’s National Council voted to back the motion when they met in Glasgow. Up to 500 SNP members attended the meeting. Iceland, Norway, Malta and Denmark, as well as England and Wales, have all scrapped their blasphemy laws.

Medical student Thomas Aikenhead was the last man to be hanged in Scotland for blasphemy. On January 8, 1697, the 20-year-old was led from the condemned cell at the Tolbooth jail in Edinburgh.

Dressed in a shroud and with a Bible in his hand, he was marched to the “gallowlee” on the road to Leith and hanged. His body remained in chains on the gibbet for weeks as a warning to others. He was executed after being reported to the authorities over comments made in casual conversation.

His crime was to proclaim Christianity a “rhapsody of feigned and ill-invented nonsense”, a statement reported to the authorities by Mungo, his best friend. The trial, conducted by Sir James Stewart, the lord advocate who was a Calvinist fanatic, was regarded as a mockery even in its day.

Fry was investigated by police in Ireland after he made comments in a RTÉ interview. Asked what he would say if he met God, Fry replied: “How dare you create a world in which there is such misery that is not our fault? It’s not right. It’s utterly, utterly evil. Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid god who creates a world which is so full of injustice and pain?”

He added that any deity presiding over a world in which children got bone cancer was “quite clearly a maniac, an utter maniac, totally selfish” We have to spend our life on our knees thanking him,” he said. “What kind of god would do that?” The investigation was ultimately dropped.

The SNP National Council serves as the party’s governing body. It’s decisions are binding unless overturned by conferences.