Concern over the curtailment of freedom of speech for people of faith has prompted a condemnation of the UK’s new Public Order Bill by the Lead Bishop for Life Issues for the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales,
The bill criminalises a range of activities within a 150m perimeter of an abortion facility, otherwise known as a ‘buffer zone’, including silent prayer.
In a statement “The Public Order Bill: A Step Too Far“, Bishop John Sherrington said that the proposed legislation, “constitutes discrimination and disproportionately affects people of faith.”
Commenting on what could be illegal within a ‘buffer zone’, he says: “These could very easily include many things that should never be criminalised such as prayer, thought, peaceful presence, consensual communication and practical support if they are deemed to influence or interfere with access to the clinic.
“Politicians went so far as to vote down an amendment which would have protected silent prayer and consensual communication in such spaces”, he added, “and that would have initiated a review into whether such legislation was needed.”