Abstract

This article considers current and foreshadowed Australian exclusion zone laws against the religious freedom, freedom of expression and peaceful assembly protections in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Exclusion zone laws criminalise activities which occur within designated areas around facilities which terminate pregnancies. Proscribed activities include communication and encompass public prayer, the offer of counselling and protest (no matter how quiet, respectful or caring). To date those prosecuted under these laws have been Christians whose actions were non-violent and motivated by their religious faith. The article argues that there is insufficient evidence that such actions cause harm sufficient to justify their criminalisation. It concludes that, at least to the extent that they criminalise public prayer and the offer of counselling, it is at least arguable that such laws are not necessary within the terms of Arts 18(3) and 21 and that they are contrary to Arts 18 and 21 of the ICCPR.

Keywords

Australia, exclusion zone laws, religious freedom, freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)

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