Graham Preston was fined $3000 for peaceful protest in Hobart
The guilty verdict handed down against Graham Preston in Hobart today will have a chilling effect on freedom of speech, says FamilyVoice Tasmania director Jim Collins.
Pro-lifer Graham Preston was fined $3000 by the Hobart Magistrates Court for breaching Tasmania’s draconian abortion exclusion-zone law.
Mr Preston was arrested in April 2015 for standing peacefully near an abortion clinic, holding a sign saying: “Everyone has the right to life, Article 3 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
The back said: “Every child has the right to life, Article 6 Convention on the Rights of the Child.” His second sign showed an unborn child eight weeks from conception.
He was charged with:
- 2 counts of engaging in prohibited behaviour within an access zone;
- 1 count of failing to comply with a direction of a police officer; and
- 1 count of engaging in prohibited behaviour within an access zone.
“Today’s decision undermines the fundamental right to protest, which is an essential part of a robust democracy,” Mr Collins said. “Even silent prayerful protest is banned under these draconian laws.”
“Our freedom of speech is under attack from restrictive anti-protest laws that prioritise political ideologies over individual rights.”
Mr Collins said a lot of people would see the Preston verdict as a double standard, pointing out that charges against former Greens leader Bob Brown were dropped after he was arrested for allegedly protesting in a logging exclusion zone.
“It’s an indictment on our society if trees are considered more valuable than human babies,” he said.
“These anti-democratic exclusion-zone laws should be repealed by the Tasmanian government.”
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