Whitehouse v Lemon; Whitehouse v Gay News Ltd: CA 1979

The defendants, editors and publisher respectively of ‘Gay News’ had been accused of blasphemous libel. The magazine had a poem entitled ‘The love that dare not Speak its Name’. it is not a necessary part of the offence that there should be an attack on the whole edifice of Christianity. It suffices that there are insults to or vilification of Christianity or the scriptures or sacred persons or objects. The Court discussed the development of the law of the offence tracing its history. Roskill LJ discussed the reasoning behind allowing prosecutions for blasphemous libel: ‘The state only became interested in the offence if the actions of the alleged offender affected the safety of the state.’


Roskill LJ


[1979] 1 QB 10


England and Wales


CitedRegina v Hetherington 1841
Lord Denman CJ directed a jury on a trial for blasphemous libel: ‘Because, a difference of opinion may subsist, not only as between different sects of Christians, but also with regard to the great doctrines of Christianity itself . . even . .
CitedRegina v Ramsay and Foote 1883
Lord Coleridge CJ directed a jury on a trial for blasphemous libel: ‘the mere denial of the truth of the Christian religion or of the Scriptures is not enough per se to constitute a writing a blasphemous libel . . But indecent and offensive attacks . .

Cited by:

Appeal fromWhitehouse v Lemon; Whitehouse v Gay News Ltd HL 21-Feb-1979
The appellants challenged their conviction for blasphemous libel. They had published a poem which described homosexual acts carried out on the body of Christ after his death.
Held: For a conviction, it was necessary to show that the defendant . .
CitedGreen, Regina (on the Application of) v The City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court, Thoday, Thompson Admn 5-Dec-2007
The claimant appealed from the refusal by the magistrate to issue summonses for the prosecution for blashemous libel of the Director General of the BBC and the producers of a show entitled ‘Jerry Springer – The Opera.’
Held: The gist of the . .
Lists of cited by and citing cases may be incomplete.

Crime, Media

Updated: 14 May 2022; Ref: scu.261811