– Ideological misuse of “Public Spaces Protection Orders”
– Human rights advocates concerned about freedom of speech in London Borough of Ealing
LONDON (27.04.2018) – Can public prayer be criminalised in Ealing? Citizens will challenge the recent censorship zone introduced by the London Borough of Ealing. Despite concerns from human rights groups, the Council voted to implement an order aimed at banning pro-life individuals from offering help outside a Marie Stopes abortion facility. Among other things, it criminalises any act and any attempted act of disapproval related to abortion, stating it “includes but is not limited to graphic, verbal or written means, prayer or counselling.”
“Ealing Council has approved a remarkably wide-ranging Public Space Protection Order that criminalises peaceful protest and otherwise lawful speech,” said Laurence Wilkinson, Legal Counsel for ADF International.
“The wording used is so broad that it amounts to a complete purge of the area despite evidence that hundreds of women have been provided with practical help by pro-life volunteers. If we set a precedent that local councils can start censoring speech with which they disagree, there is no logical stopping point.”
Valuable services sidelined
The decision of the Council is particularly troubling for groups like the Good Counsel Network who have offered support to pregnant women in proximity to the clinic for over 20 years without incident.
The Order is being challenged by Alina Dulgheriu. She was on her way to an abortion appointment when she accepted the offer of help from a member of the Good Counsel Network to keep her baby. Alina now participates herself by offering practical assistance to pregnant women and is speaking out about her experience as part of the group “Be Here For Me.”
“In the name of ‘choice’, Ealing has removed the only real choice many women have,” added Ryan Day, Senior Policy Officer for ADF International.
“It is no surprise that this order has attracted criticism from those with very different views on abortion. This kind of draconian step bans the offer of help where it is most needed and ignores the real experience of hundreds of women who are now being denied the opportunity to give back the same kind of help they received.”
Find out more
Alina Dulgheriu will speak to the media about why she felt it was necessary to file this challenge today at 10.30 a.m. GMT in front of the Royal Courts of Justice.