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News Article

Preston verdict ‘a threat to democratic freedoms’
Wednesday, July 27, 2016

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“These anti-democratic exclusion-zone laws should be repealed by the Tasmanian government.”


  • Government and society
  • Human life and dignity

View next article - Groundhog Day for bill of rights


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