The anti-censorship bill approved by Parliament yesterday does away with “old-fashioned laws”, replacing them with ones that are better address society’s needs, Culture Minister Owen Bonello said this morning.

Addressing a press conference in Parliament, the minister said that while laws on hate speech had been amended, offering victims of such crimes better protection, vilification of religion has been decriminalised.

“We have updated those laws that serve to protect those who are most vulnerable but at the same time we opened doors to freedom of artistic expression,” Dr Bonnici said.

We have updated those laws that serve to protect those who are most vulnerable but at the same time we opened doors to freedom of artistic expression

He observed that for years, artists had called for such a move that gave them more freedom to express their views through their work, adding that a democratic society should welcome any form of criticism and not try and stifle it.

“Opening the doors to such criticism is in no way dangerous. It’s keeping these doors locked and shut that’s the problem,” Dr Bonnici said.

The Bill, approved yesterday, also introduces revenge porn as a crime, something which was only the case in a handful of countries, Dr Bonnici said.

On comments by Archbishop Charles Scicluna criticising the approval of the Bill, the minister said that while he respected the Archbishop’s views on the matter, he added that if the two had the chance to sit down and discuss some of the issues, they would agree about a number of aspects.

In a tweet yesterday evening, Mgr Scicluna said: "Demeaning God and man indeed go hand in hand. A sad day for Malta. Lord forgive them: they do not know what they do."