Josh Pallas: NSWCCL condemns political interference with the right to protest

Comments from Josh Pallas, President NSW Council for Civil Liberties.

"Calls in the media from politicians and public figures for police to have prohibited or closed down the Free Palestine Protest in Sydney yesterday are misplaced and fundamentally inconsistent with the right to protest which must be protected, not trashed."

"The exercise of this right should not be dependent on police approval.  Non-violent protest is fundamental to democracy and should be allowed by right."

"Of course, politicians and public figures may publicly disagree with the content of a protest, however, is also an important democratic freedom.  But it is wrong for them to call for a prohibition of the protest."

"Everyone should have the right to gather and convey political messages in non-violent protest. This right is essential to our democratic system of government. The right to protest has already been eroded enough in this State and politicians should not be given licence to erode it further on the basis of there being "good" and "bad" protest causes.  Protest itself ought to be celebrated as enriching our democracy."

"Expression of hate speech, in whatever form it takes, is neither appropriate nor consistent with democratic values.  Hate speech is not a legitimate exercise of free speech rights. Protestors should not engage in hate speech.”