The 5th chamber of the Administrative Court of Frankfurt am Main has reached a decision that the ban issued by the city of Frankfurt against a prayer group praying in front of a regional abortion organization was unlawful.
In spring 2020, the prayer initiative, which operates as a registered association 40 Days for Life, announced a 40-day prayer vigil in front of a Pro Familia counselling center during its opening hours. The city of Frankfurt then issued an order requiring the prayer group to appear in front of the counselling center only outside its opening hours. Furthermore, the order contained the instruction that persons who were visibly on their way to the counselling center were not to be harassed. Harassment of any kind, such as imposing yourself on someone to talk to them or handing them information material and flyers, was also not allowed. During the opening hours, the group would only be allowed to gather for prayer on a sidewalk further away from the counseling center.
But the Administrative Court of Frankfurt decided that “there is no room in the given legal system for such protection against confrontation with other views that are not desired”, after the prayer initiative took to court to fight the municipal order.
There is no doubt that such gatherings fall under the fundamental right protecting the freedom of assembly under Article 8 of the Basic Law. This guarantees the holders of fundamental rights the right to determine the place, time, type and content of the gathering. The efforts of the city of Frankfurt to create a quasi protected space for women in public and thus prevent a confrontation with dissenters and other opinions in no way justified a restriction of the plaintiff’s freedom of assembly and expression. The latter had the right to freely express and disseminate their opinions in speech, writing and images.
Referring to several decisions of the Federal Constitutional Court, the Administrative Court also made it clear that the general right of personality of women going to pregnancy counselling centers could also not restrict the freedom of assembly and expression of the participants in the action.
Dr. Felix Böllmann, a lawyer with ADF International, a human rights organization that is litigating another similar case in Pforzheim, commented: “We welcome the decision of the Frankfurt court, which protects the right to freedom of speech, expression and assembly. People who stand up for the protection of the right to life must not be prevented from exercising these freedoms peacefully in the place of their choice. The ruling sends a positive signal.”
The judgment is not yet final and the decision may still be appealed.
Are you interested in the pro-life and pro-family movement? Always stay up to date – subscribe to our newsletter! Register here. Daily news from the English-speaking countries and the whole world!