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Right-To-Life Party, Christian, Anti-War, Pro-Life, Bible Fundamentalist, Egalitarian, Libertarian Left

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Judge drops ‘Hate Crimes’ Charge against ‘Philly 5’ for Preaching at Gay Festival

Cases show how ‘hate crime’ laws can easily be abused by overzealous liberal authorities

PHILADELPHIA, February 18, 2005 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A Philadelphia judge dismissed all criminal charges Thursday against four Christians who were arrested after walking a public street and quoting the Bible during Outfest, a celebration of homosexual behavior, on October 10 of last year.

Judge Pamela Dembe of the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas dismissed the charges, saying that she found no basis whatsoever for any of them. Dembe said that the First Amendment protects unpopular speech as much as popular speech and is the controlling issue in this case.

“We are one of the very few countries that protects unpopular speech,” Dembe said, according to a WorldNetDaily report. “And that means that Nazis can March in Skokie, Illinois ... That means that the Ku Klux Klan can march where they wish to. We cannot stifle speech because we don't want to hear it, or we don't want to hear it now.”

Four adults and one juvenile were arrested on felony and misdemeanor charges of ethnic intimidation, riot, criminal conspiracy, reckless endangerment, possessing an instrument of crime, highway obstruction, failure to disperse, and disorderly conduct. Today’s decision applies only to the four adults, but charges against the juvenile are expected to be dropped Friday.

“The judge saw this case for what it is,” said Alliance Defense Fund Senior Counsel Joe Infranco, who defended the four men. “This was the right response to an outrageous abuse of power to silence speech that some people didn’t like.”

“What took place here was a government crackdown on disfavored speech,” Infranco continued. “The Outfest participants staged a national coming-out day on a public street using public funds, and then they tried to say it’s a private event. That didn’t make any sense, and neither did the actions of the police who arrested our clients.”

The three felonies grew out of Pennsylvania's Ethnic Intimidation Law, which adds penalties to criminal acts if authorities determine that a “hate crime” has been committed.

“When Pennsylvania lawmakers added ‘sexual orientation’ to the law in 2003, pro-family leaders warned that it could be used against Christians to suppress freedom of speech, religion and assembly,” said Robert Knight, director of Concerned Women for America’s Culture & Family Institute in a release. “Their fears came to life last October, when prosecutors threw the book at a group of Christians from Repent America who were peacefully sharing the Gospel in a public area. Now, we hope lawmakers will take a second look and pass a bill removing that portion of the hate crimes act.”

“…These cases show how ‘hate crime’ laws can easily be abused by overzealous liberal authorities,” Knight emphasized.

See related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
Prayer and Scripture Reading During Gay Celebration Could Cost Christians 47 Years in Prison

UN Passes Declaration to Ban All Forms of Human Cloning

UNITED NATIONS, February 18, 2005 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The United Nations has called on Member States to adopt urgent legislation outlawing all cloning practices "as they are incompatible with human dignity and the protection of human life." The declaration, introduced by Honduras, also calls on countries to "prevent the exploitation of women." Cloning requires harvesting eggs from women.

The decision ends three years of deadlock caused by countries seeking approval for cloning research. The United Kingdom, Belgium and Singapore led the opposition for a total ban, insisting that a ban only apply to letting a cloned human live while allowing cloned embryos to be used for research which would kill them. The declaration represents the international community uniting in condemning all human cloning as exploitative and unethical.

At the insistence of delegates from developing countries who feared their women were being turned into "egg farms," the declaration calls on Member States to introduce measures to prevent the exploitation of women. Delegates expressed concern that poor women would be targeted to extract the vast numbers of eggs that would be needed, inevitably inflicting painful, dangerous and invasive procedures on vulnerable women.

Included is a proposal calling for wealthier nations to direct attention and funding to pressing medical issues such as HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. It also condemns all applications of any genetic engineering techniques which threaten human dignity.

This declaration represents a significant step forward in advancing respect for human life. Previously, some countries have blocked moves to ban all cloning with claims that stem cells from cloned embryos will treat various maladies (so-called "therapeutic cloning"). Yet not a single person has ever been helped by these stem cells, while ethical adult stem cells are providing miraculous treatments for numerous conditions, including spinal cord injuries, Parkinson's Disease, cancer, heart failure and blindness, doing what cloning supporters can only promise.

The declaration has the same immediate effect as if the committee endorsed a convention in that it sets an international standard. It sends a clear signal to countries that encourage the practice, such as the United Kingdom in particular where two "licenses" for research cloning have been issued. The first is currently subject to a legal challenge on the basis that the cloning "license" is unlawful and unnecessary. It is due to be heard in the High Court shortly. Cloning opponents welcomed the UN's resolution and look forward to Member States fulfilling their international obligations.

Details of exploitation which would arise from cloning may be obtained from http://www.cloninginformation.org

More information on the UK lawsuit due to be heard in the UK High Court may obtained from http://www.lawcf.org.