Buffer zone advocates ‘criminalising silent prayer’ – Lockhart

Upper Bann MP Carla Lockhart today hosted Isabel Vaughan-Spruce on a visit to Parliament. Isabel was arrested for silently praying near an abortion facility in Birmingham and subsequently searched, arrested and charged for breaking a Public Space Protection Order censorship zone (or “buffer zone”) four times.

By Carla Lockhart MP

Upper Bann

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Her case was also recently raised by East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell through a Parliamentary Motion and directly with the Justice Secretary.

Carla Lockhart said:

“The arrest and subsequent charge against Isabel has highlighted the draconian impact of buffer zone legislation.

We are on a downward trajectory as a nation in terms of freedom of religion and freedom of expression. The criminalising of silent prayer in modern Britain is a dangerous pathway to pursue. In this case it was the private thoughts of a pro-life individual which saw her facing criminal charges, but people can rightly ask where it will end. What will happen to others who speak out on unpopular causes? Regardless of your stance on the right of life of the unborn child, this attack on freedom of thought should be of great concern.

I firmly believe Clause 9 as it stands in this legislation must be amended. Likewise, in Northern Ireland, the potential impact of our legislation is startling when you consider the consequences of GB legislation.

We are now firmly in the realm where ‘thought crimes’ like prayer are a policing priority. It is madness, but reflects where some politicians priorities lie and how they are aggressively removing rights enjoyed in this country for hundreds of years.”

Please find attached a picture of

The text of the motion tabled in Parliament is here.

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