Victorians should not be surprised that the State’s badly crafted anti-free speech buffer zone laws have resulted in the arrest of a Melbourne mother of 13, says the Australian Christian Lobby.

ACL Victorian Director Dan Flynn said the law which was designed to prevent people from protesting within 150 metres of hospitals, GP clinics prescribing RU 486 and abortion clinics was so confusing that it was only a matter of time before someone would get arrested.

“The law goes well beyond just targeting protests. It makes it a crime to have any pro-life communication within 150 metres of many buildings across Victoria, to such an extent that, if policed, it would prohibit free speech across most of Melbourne and much of the State,” Mr Flynn said.

“The Government has refused to specify where most of the zones exist so many people can be breaking the law without even realising it.

“The anti-free speech buffer zones take in churches, universities and other institutions leading to the ridiculous situation where the Government is controlling what can and cannot be expressed in relation to abortion in the community at large.

“The banning of any pro-life communication within 150 metres of all these premises is simply the Government silencing speech that it does not agree with.

Victorians need to be mindful that this law is not just about providing public safety, which is already sufficiently covered by laws, but is a deliberate attempt to stop vulnerable expectant mothers from having access to balanced information and a caring hand.”

Around 300 Victorian lives have been saved over the past 20 years because of the peaceful and gentle support provided by pro-life advocates, Mr Flynn said.

“The ACL hopes that the Government will respond to the arrest of the Melbourne mother by placing its legislation back on the drawing board to ensure no more Victorians will fall foul of the unclear free speech ban.

“The ACL and many Victorians, believe that the law can be scrapped as other laws already provide adequate safeguards against unlawful activities.”

ENDS

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