Germany plans to unveil censorship zones which violate freedom of speech and free assembly

Pavica Vojnovic standing outside of a facility which is inside of a censorship zone.

All of Germany must reject this bill because whether pro-life or not, censorship zones would ensnare everyone

Pavica Vojnovic outside of an abortion facility where censorship zones silence pro-life speech.

The German government is planning to introduce so-called censorship zones in certain locations – just like the UK. These censorship zones around abortion facilities are established to silence the pro-life view. These zones are not “pro-choice”, they’re no-choice.

And their actions deliberately ignore recent rulings by the Federal Administrative Court. Several weeks ago, the federal government approved a draft law on censorship zones to be established in certain locations in front of and around German abortion-related facilities in which certain opinions can no longer be expressed and certain peaceful activities prohibited.

What are censorship zones?

Censorship zones are areas defined by the local administration or even the legislature where specific opinions, actions or gatherings are prohibited. These zones censor certain expressions of opinion, hence the name ‘censorship zone’.

A look at Great Britain shows where restrictions on peaceful prayers can lead. In recent months, several people have been arrested there due to local censorship zones. The arrests occurred because individuals were quietly praying on a public street. The zones there have led to even silent prayer and, thus, thoughts being criminalized. We must not stand for this. Here’s why: 

Censorship zones violate fundamental freedoms

Censorship zones are advanced under the guise of protecting women, but they are levied against peaceful individuals who in no way condone the harassment of women. After all, harassment is already prohibited under German criminal law.

What is most dangerous, however, is the fact that certain opinions are banned because they’re unpopular. Even if we disagree on abortion, we should agree that basic human rights—like free expression and free thought—are too important to throw out the window. 

We all have the basic human right to think, act, and pray in accordance with our convictions.

Only recently, the Federal Administrative Court confirmed the right to freedom of assembly and freedom of opinion of a pro-life prayer group.

They gathered across the street from an abortion facility and quietly prayed. The police did not find harassment while observing the group in Pforzheim.

Similarly in the UK, A pro-life activist is being investigated for a third time for praying silently in a censorship zone.

She had nothing with her, did not prevent women from entering the abortion facility, and did not even speak to anyone. A silent prayer in her mind was enough to bring her to court – a serious violation of freedom of thought.

Censorship zones are clearly having serious consequences for fundamental freedoms in the UK and we cannot let the same thing happen in Germany. 

These zones silence without offering help

Censorship zones do nothing to protect women. Rather, they block women from hearing about the offers of help available to them.

The sad reality is that these zones fail the women who choose abortion out of a sense of helplessness. By banning peaceful offers of help and alternative options, many women will feel even more alone.

Shouldn’t women in crisis pregnancies have access to help and alternative options to abortion?

If the state can ban freedom of expression and assembly in front of certain establishments, why not in other places?

There is no logical endpoint for such censorship

Freedom of expression, assembly, and freedom of religion benefit all people. These fundamental rights cannot be restricted under the pretext of harassment – which is already a criminal offence.

This bill is aimed at silencing pro-life views, to get those who stand up for the lives of the unborn to self-censor and remain silent. That’s why we’re pushing back against these censorial laws – will you help us?

The bill, which was approved by the cabinet on January 24th, 2024, will now be forwarded to the Bundesrat, which can already introduce amendments. This will be followed by the legislative process in the Bundestag, which will end with a vote on the law.

As the legal impact of these zones becomes clear, we must remain committed to defending the basic human right to free expression, including preventing the proliferation of “thought crimes” where people can even be prosecuted for silent prayer.  

Will you stand alongside us for the protection of freedom of expression and freedom of assembly?

We must stand up for our fundamental rights together.