As we continue to await the High Court’s judgment — originally expected on Friday but now delayed until November 26 — on whether concerned parents may resume their protests outside their children’s school over pro-LGBT teaching, and by implication whether any parents may so protest outside schools, I have to say I’m not filled with confidence that this is going to go the way of the parents.
After all, we have already seen the courts rule that council bans on prayer vigils outside abortion clinics are justified and lawful.
In both cases the arguments have taken the same basic form: vulnerable people (children, women seeking abortions) should not be subject to harassment or impeded from doing something lawful (going to school, obtaining an abortion) by protesters.
This might seem fair enough. However, there is not any real evidence that children or women are being harassed or otherwise impeded by these vigils or demonstrations.
The schools protests, for example, have been supervised by police who have confirmed that no unlawful activity has taken place.
Likewise, there have been no arrests in connection with lawful demonstrations and vigils outside UK abortion clinics.
So what’s really going on? As far as I can see, it is because our liberal-progressive elites in government, media and the judiciary approve of these things – abortion, pro-LGBT school classes – so much that they want to ban the vigils and protests against them. After all, they would never ban protests against things they think are wrong.
Of course, defenders of the bans would say it’s because of the vulnerability of the people involved that these protests in particular must be stopped. But an argument could be made that all people are ‘vulnerable’ in some way. Besides, it is not the children who are the target of the schools protests but the schools and authorities, while it is the protection of the children that is aimed at. Likewise, it is the protection of vulnerable unborn children, and of women perhaps convinced that abortion is the only choice they have, that motivates the abortion vigils.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has spoken out in favour of abortion clinic buffer zones, implying the vigils are not loving. Yet they are an earnest effort to defend innocent human life and encourage women not to commit, as the demonstrators see it, grave moral evil. Surely that is a loving thing to do?
Christians should be standing up against the evil of abortion and supporting those who take loving, prayerful action against it and in support of women contemplating it, not undermining them by casting doubt on their motives and backing bans.
Likewise, Christians should stand in solidarity with parents, whatever their religion, who take lawful action to protect their children from controversial relationships and sex education that is contrary to their faith.
When the High Court hands down its judgment on the LGBT schools protests later in the month we will get a clearer picture of whether rights such as free speech and assembly in this country are still for everyone, or only, as many of us suspect, increasingly only for those who hold the correct views.
(Image: Royal Courts of Justice, London. Credit: bortescristian/Wikimedia Commons)