England’s buffer zone laws, voted in by an overwhelming majority of MPs, will be deliberately undermined by new Home Office guidance. That’s according to the I Paper, which says that despite legislation banning religious groups from harassing women, the guidance says that forced birthers “would still be able to approach women attending clinics, conduct “silent prayer” and offer information to and engage in discussion with patients, all inside the 150m zones.”
The guidance is currently open for consultation and if you care about women’s rights, you should contribute. Because you can be sure that the forced birthers will.
This is a particularly twisted trick, because it effectively tells the police and other authorities not to enforce a law designed specifically to protect vulnerable people; it says that those people’s rights don’t matter, irrespective of what the letter and the spirit of the law says. And it’s a trick we’ve seen before, because it’s exactly what Liz Truss has done via the EHRC and its guidance regarding the Equality Act and its protections for trans people.
Truss has close links with the US Heritage Foundation, a key driver of anti-trans and anti-abortion activity in the US; I wasn’t aware of Cleverly having similar links but whether by accident or design he too is serving up something from the evangelical right’s wish list.
As I’ve written many times, I’ve long since given up on expecting most people to care about trans rights. But if you’re not a straight white Christian man, you should be paying attention to the tricks politicians, media groups and hate groups are using to target us and roll back our rights. Because as we’ve seen again and again, what they test on us is only ever the beginning.