A MOVE to scrap Scotland’s centuries old blasphemy laws will be debated by the SNP's governing body this week.

Scotland’s blasphemy laws were last used in 1843 to convict Edinburgh bookseller Thomas Paterson who was jailed for selling blasphemous literature.

However, a resolution to the SNP's National Council wants to remove the possibility that anyone now, or in the future, could be prosecuted. The motion, by the party's Leith branch, argues that Scotland is lagging behind other countries, like England and Wales, adding that the laws are still invoked in many parts of the world to "criminalise freedom of belief and expression".

Last year, comic 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.

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.

However, the motion to the SNP national council points out that Scotland is not just out of step with England and Wales, but with nations such as Iceland, Norway, Malta and Denmark, which have scrapped their blasphemy laws.

"Removal in Scotland is now long overdue," the resolution says.

It believes that the shake-up would remove "once and for all the possibility" that anyone in Scotland could ever again be prosecuted for blasphemy.

The party's national council will be asked to back the change at a meeting on Saturday in Glasgow. Nicola Sturgeon is due to deliver a keynote speech ahead of the debate on the motion at the private event at the University of Strathclyde.

Scrapping the blasphemy laws would "strengthen Scotland’s capacity to speak out against human rights abuses under the guise of blasphemy and heresy elsewhere in the world," the motion says.

The motion calls 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."

Medical Student Thomas Aikenhead, who lived in Edinburgh, was the last person executed for blasphemy in Britain in 1697 at the age of 20.

He was hanged in the capital after being reported to the authorities over comments made in casual conversation.

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

The next SNP conference is in Aberdeen from June 8-9.