Section 132 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 makes it illegal to demonstrate anywhere near Parliament without official police permission. Under this act, it is an offence to organise or take part in a demonstration within the ‘designated area’ (up to 1 km around Parliament) if authorisation has not been applied for and granted by the Metropolitan Police Commissioner.
Unless of course you believe in Santa Claus, in which case an exception will probably be made.
In 2005, I organised and staged a pro-Christmas demonstration in the form of a carol service in Parliament Square.
Traditional songs were sung in support of varying aspects of Christmas, a minute’s silence was held, and money was collected for Medical Aid for Iraqi Children.
No singers were arrested. In fact, Police said they treated it as a carol service, not a demonstration:
The event was repeated in 2006 and again the Police chose not to classify the event as a demonstration.
It also needs to be noted that – in cases where permission is applied for and Police do not regard a proposed event to be a demonstration – they will issue a statement to the applicant saying so instead of approving the application.
Following an epiphany inside the main lobby of Parliament, this year I decided that the time had come to take a stand against Christmas.
On 12 December 2007, I submitted an application to the Metropolitan Police Commissioner for a carol service that would be exactly the same as previous events, with one primary difference; carols would be sung condemning varying aspects of Christmas, instead of supporting them.
On 17 December 2007, notice was given that this application was approved.
In other words, staging an event in support of Christmas is legal within a designated area without police permission, and staging an event against Christmas is not.
The implications of this should be clear. Press releases just went out. Cheers all.
Click here for details of the anti-Christmas carol service in Parliament Square at 6:30pm on Thursday the 20th of December 2007
UPDATE – The full press release appears below the fold. For those who haven’t worked out the obvious implications yet (well done, Parliament Protest) the police are guilty of religious discrimination.