Peter Tatchell: ‘I support freedom to protest for right to life’

Peter Tatchell has slammed the introduction of the UK’s first abortion buffer zone for going against “what a free and democratic society is supposed to be all about”.

Ealing Council voted unanimously in April to introduce a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO), barring protestors from within 100 metres of a Marie Stopes abortion centre.

But Tatchell, a prominent campaigner on homosexuality and free speech, disagrees with the move.

Free to disagree

In an interview with the Conservative Home website, Tatchell admitted that he is “a hundred per cent in favour of a woman’s right to choose”, but says he still supports pro-lifers’ right to protest.

“If a protest is peaceful, and non-harassing, then it should be allowed, because that’s what a free and democratic society is supposed to be all about.

“We let people express their opinions and protest at things they object to. That has got to include the right of people I or you may disagree with.”

The campaigner went on to say: “All the evidence I’ve heard is that the Ealing anti-abortion protesters have mostly been silent, peaceful, dignified, and not at all harassing of the women going to the clinic.”

‘Dangerous precedent’

Last month, Tatchell signed an open letter to warn of “the dangerous precedent” for freedom of speech that the buffer zones set.

The letter, also signed by the Manifesto Club, Big Brother Watch, Index on Censorship and the Freedom Association, expressed their “grave concern” about the issue.

It said that Ealing’s PSPO was “so widely drawn as to impose potentially unlawful restrictions on the rights of freedom of assembly and freedom of expression”.

The letter was sent to councils in Lambeth, Richmond, Southwark, Portsmouth, Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds.

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