Challenge Weekly – owned by registered charity – highlights “University ProLife Win”

Challenge Weekly Newspaper, owned by a legal entity that was incorporated in 1975 and registered with the Charities Commission as a charity on 30 June 2008, runs a story on its front page this week “Prolife elated with win: University [Prolife] club survives expulsion bid.”

A student-run prolife group is celebrating a vote by its peers at the University of Auckland not to disaffiliate the club.

Prolife Auckland won the vote 227 to 125 at a special general meeting attended by a large and noisy crowd on July 18 and club president Amy Bowers is pleased with the result for a number of reasons.

“We had support from many students who are not members of our club and have no intention of joining. But clearly they recognised that freedom of expression is a right worth protecting for everyone, in particular in a university setting where academic freedom must be paramount.”

After a single anonymous complaint regarding the club’s ‘Right To Know’ pamphlets that were distributed around campus, the Auckland University Student Association (AUAS) executive put forward a motion to deny ProLife Auckland the right to exist as an affiliated club.

“The club ran this campaign in May which promoted a women’s right to know the facts when faced with a crisis pregnancy, which included the health risks of abortion and full statistics. Ironically, this attempt to shut us down has given us the chance to reach a far wider audience with our message, and that’s the whole reason that we exist as a club,” says Ms Blowers.

Prolife Auckland’s sister club at Wellington’s Victoria University is also thrilled with the result.

“Freedom of speech is a vitally important right in a society that truly claims to be open, free and democratic,” says LifeChoice Victoria president Mary-Ane Evers.

“University is the perfect place for discussion of controversial issues. Student Associations should encourage free and frank discussion and not shy away from these topics.”

Celebration has continued throughout the wider prolife community in New Zealand.

Right to Life spokesperson Ken Orr was delighted at the resounding victory for the right to free speech upheld by the students. “We congratulate the members of Prolife for its defence of free speech…” said Mr Orr.”The battle for recognition of the inalienable right to life of every human being from conception to natural death will be won or lost in our universities.”

Source: Challenge Weekly. July 23, 2012, Vol. 70 Iss. 27, p.1.

SPCS Objectives from its Constitution – Incorporated Society No. 217833

2. The objects for which the Society for Promotion of Community Standards Inc. (“SPCS”) is established are:

(a) To encourage self-respect and the dignity of the human person, made in the image of God.

(b) To promote recognition of the sanctity of human life and its preservation in all stages.

(c) To promote wholesome personal values, including strong family life and the benefits of lasting marriage as the foundation for stable communities.

(d) To focus attention on the harmful nature and consequences of sexual promiscuity, obscenity, pornography, violence, fraud, dishonesty in business, exploitation, abuse of alcohol and drugs, and other forms of moral corruption.

(e) To foster public awareness of the benefits to social, economic and moral welfare of the maintenance and promotion of good community standards, including supporting enforcement agencies to uphold such standards as set out in law and encourage constructive debate and discussion in this area.

(f) To support responsible freedom of expression which does not injure the public good by degrading, dehumanising or demeaning individuals or classes of people.

(g) To raise money that will be used, under the control of the executive, to promote the moral and spiritual welfare of sectors of society that need special help and to advance the charitable objects of the Society (a) to (f).

The unlawful actions of public authorities seeking to stifle “the right to freedom of expression”

The Society’s sixth object from section 2 of its Constitution deals with the principle of the human “right to freedom of expression” and it was approved as a “charitable purpose” by the New Zealand Charities Commission, when it was registered as a charity on 17 December 2007. (The Commission was disestablished on 1 July 2012 and “Charities” has now been absorbed into the Department of Internal Affairs).

The Society’s Rules (“objects”) state:

2. (f) “To support responsible freedom of expression which does not injure the public good by degrading, dehumanising or demeaning individuals or classes of people”.

What is the Society’s rationale and basis for having such an object?

For an answer to this question one needs to look no further than sections 13 & 14 of the New Zealand Bill of Rights 1990 which states:

Section 13: Freedom of thought, conscience, and religion

  • Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience, religion, and belief, including the right to adopt and to hold opinions without interference.

Section 14: Freedom of Expression

  • Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, including the freedom to seek, receive and impart information and opinions of any kind in any form. [Emphasis added]

The principle of the human “right to freedom of expression” is found in Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (“ECHR”) signed by member states on 4 November 1950.

ARTICLE 10.

1. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression. This right shall include freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority and regardless of frontiers. This article shall not prevent States from requiring the licensing of broadcasting, television or cinema enterprise.

2. The exercise of these freedoms, since it carries with it duties and responsibilities, may be subject to such formalities, conditions, restrictions or penalties as are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or the rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence, or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.

Article 10 (1) focuses on and specifically addresses the unlawful activities of any “public authority” (e.g. a Crown entity) that attempts (whether openly or by stealth) to stifle “free speech”, by means of – for example: limiting and prescribing robust debate, and harassing and victimizing individuals and groups that seek to express a viewpoint that authorities disagree with, or consider too controversial to be aired.

Pandering to the strident and relentless bleatings of certain narrow-minded interest groups, or driven by arguably defective ideologies that authorities consider “politically correct”; such campaigns of harassment by public authorities propel the spirits of these unjust instigators of corruption to their zenith; in the ‘sure knowledge’ that they are doing the work of ‘God’ or His ‘equivalent’ – the Crown Entity or some public authority to which they are dutifully behoven.

In attempting to pander to the relentless litany of complaints from opponents of “free speech”, these quisling operatives within what used to be honourably called “the public service departments”, deviate from the universally held principles set out in Article 10(1) of the ECHR and other equivalent laws and statutes (see below), committing unlawful acts that warrant full exposure before the Courts.

Common sense dictates the principles set out in Article 10(2).

In the New Zealand Bill of Rights 1990 (“BORA”) which upholds the “right of freedom of expression”, limitations to such “freedom” are set out that are identical to those in 10(2).

BORA states:

  • Section 5: Justified limitations
    • Subject to section 4, the rights and freedoms contained in this Bill of Rights may be subject only to such reasonable limits prescribed by law as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

  • Section 6. Interpretation consistent with Bill of Rights to be preferred.
  • Wherever an enactment can be given a meaning that is consistent with the rights and freedoms contained in this Bill of Rights, that meaning shall be preferred to any other meaning.

The SPCS has included in its object 2(f) the following check to offensive and unlawful activities that some would seek to justify on the grounds of their “right to freedom of expression”: ….

“…. [that] which does not injure the public good by degrading, dehumanising or demeaning individuals or classes of people.”

These words act as an effective couterbalance to the “right to freedom of expression” found in BORA. They summarise the responsibilities of citizens to uphold all other relevant enanctments so that in effect any one (and ALL) of their actions, as expressed by SPCS, is limited to one “which does not injure the public good by degrading, dehumanising or demeaning individuals or classes of people”.

The SPCS draws its reference to the concept of “injury to the public good” and the effect of “degrading, dehumanising or demeaning individuals or classes of people” from section 2 of the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 (“FVPCA”, in which “objectionable” content is clearly defined.

The so-called “deeming provisions” found in s. 2(2) of this Act set out the basis upon which content (depicted behaviour in films, books etc) is deemed “objectionable” by the Chief Censor’s Office, and consequently can be banned. Hardcore pornography that degrades, dehumanises and demeans the class of humanity we define as women (based on gender) is regularly banned by the censors. Some porn companies actively seek to import such material that pushes to the limits the boundaries set in law to control such content matter.

Section 6 of BORA in effect ‘trumps’ all other constraints that public authorities may dearly wish to impose on individuals and groups by their appealing to other enactments (e.g. Charity Law) to restrict “freedom of expression”.

Prior to about October 2000, Commissioners of the Charity Commission (England and Wales) were required to have regard to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), which was not directly applicable until the Human Rights Act 1988 (HRA) was in force (about October 2000). (see Decision re Church of Scientology [England and Wales]).

It is somewhat ironic that so many charities championing “human rights” and engaging in blatant “political advocacy” in order to advance their messages in England and Wales, could well face the vicious  tourniquet applied by Charity Commissioners, determined to muzzle them from speaking out against the harassment and discrimination of vulnerable minority classes such as Christians.

Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights is embodied in section 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

There will always be those who cannot cope with others expressing sincerely held opinions that differ from their own.

International law is very clear about the rights of any person to declare such opinions or beliefs without interference from others including public authorities.

References:

1. Council of Europe: The European Convention on Human Rights. Rome 4 November 1950

and its Five Protocols

http://www.hri.org/docs/ECHR50.html

2. New Zealand Bill of Rights 1980

http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/1990/0109/latest/DLM224792.html?search=ts_act%40bill%40regulation%40deemedreg_bill+of+rights_resel_25_h&p=1

Lobbying Disclosure Bill “significantly limits core democratic expression” – says Attorney-General

The Lobbying Disclosure Bill in the name of Green MP Holly Walker – a bill that would require lobbyists to face tougher scrutiny – breaks human rights laws on freedom of speech, according to the Government’s lawyer Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson. His Report concludes:

This Bill significantly limits core democratic expression. In going well beyond what would be required to regulate the activities of lobbyists, it risks creating a chilling effect for average New Zealanders who may fear criminal sanctions for merely communicating with a Member of Parliament on behalf of their business in relation to government policy.  This would be an unacceptable limit on a core element of freedom of expression.

On the question of whether any justification exists for the limitation of freedom of expression imposed by the proposed legislation, he states:

The limits on freedom of expression sought to be imposed by the Bill are greater than reasonably necessary to meet the objective.  This is because, primarily due to poor drafting, the Bill goes well beyond the activities of professional lobbyists to include a wide range of other activities.

The proposed law aims to bring transparency to MPs dealings with lobbyists, argues Ms Holly. The Attorney-General Chris Finlayson is required to report to Parliament if a bill appears inconsistent with human rights legislation. Ms Walker’s bill makes it a criminal offence for lobbyists to impart information to ministers, MPs and their staff without signing up to a register and a code of conduct. Such “lobbyists” under her bill would include businesses, charities, trade unions and interest groups etc. Her bill which is modelled on a Canadian version, also regulates how politicians receive that information.

Mr Finlayson concluded this limited the ability to express information “freely”.

References.

1. Report of Attorney-General under the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 on the Lobbying Disclosure Bill

http://www.parliament.nz/NR/rdonlyres/DA3E13C9-FE3B-40FF-87A9-CBED0321A9E9/223921/DBHOH_PAP_23052_AttorneyGeneralReportoftheunderthe.pdf

2. Lobbying Disclosure Bill: Explanatory note. Green Party. Holly Walker MP

http://www.greens.org.nz/bills/lobbying-disclosure-bill

3. Green’s bill rips veil off lobbying. by Kate Chapman Stuff.co.nz April 10, 2012

http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/politics/6713985/Greens-bill-rips-veil-off-lobbying

4. Greens’ lobbyist bill gets MP’s seal of approval. By Adam Bennett & Claire Trevett. April 17, 2012

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10799429

 

Nudists Should Cover up For Sake of Families – says Family First NZ

Family First NZ, a registered charity with the Charities Commission, is calling on the Tauranga District Council to follow the lead of the Kapiti Coast District Council and pass a bylaw outlawing public nudity on the coastline.  It is also calling on the government to amend the Crimes Act and Summary Offences Act so that the precedent to allow public nudity, set in past cases by liberal judges on events such as the ‘Boobs on Bikes’, can be overturned. [Read more…]