Scroll To Top
World

Australian Court
Strikes Ban on Gay Rights Protesters

Australian Court
Strikes Ban on Gay Rights Protesters

A court struck down a new law Tuesday that barred people from annoying participants of a Roman Catholic youth festival in Australia that the pope plans to attend, ruling that the law restricted free speech. The ruling handed down on the opening day of the six-day World Youth Day festival paves the way for activists to hand out condoms and coat hangers -- symbolizing abortions -- to pilgrims in a demonstration planned for Saturday.

A court struck down a new law Tuesday that banned people from annoying participants of a Roman Catholic youth festival in Australia that the pope plans to attend, ruling that the law restricted free speech.

The ruling handed down on the opening day of the six-day World Youth Day festival paves the way for activists to hand out condoms and coat hangers -- symbolizing abortions -- to pilgrims in a demonstration planned for Saturday.

Three federal court judges ruled that the law was invalid under Australia's constitution because it limited freedom of speech. The new regulations had made behavior that caused annoyance or inconvenience to festival participants punishable by fines up $5,300.

The legal challenge was brought by two activists from the NoPope Coalition, a group of gay rights and secular activists. The coalition is planning a rally on Saturday at which activists said they will wear T-shirts condemning Pope Benedict XVI and hand out condoms and coat hangers to pilgrims taking part in a procession through Sydney.

''We now have a lot more confidence to take to the streets to condemn Pope Benedict's policies against condom use, against contraception, against homosexuality,'' said Rachel Evans, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit. ''We are glad that the court has ruled that we do have the freedom of expression to communicate our political views on Saturday.''

The New South Wales state government introduced the regulations for July only, saying they were the same sort of powers authorities normally have to quell potential trouble at big sporting events.

Sydney archbishop Cardinal George Pell said the church had not asked for the special rules and had no problem with the right to protest legally.

Pope Benedict XVI is in Sydney for World Youth Day, which officials say has attracted more than 200,000 pilgrims from around the world. The pontiff does not have any public events until Thursday, when he tours Sydney Harbor and delivers a major address. The festival culminates with a papal Mass on Sunday. (AP)

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff & Wayne Brady

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Outtraveler Staff