Trade unions, disability rights groups, renters, workers, migrants and benefits claimants all rely on basic civil and human rights to defend themselves against attacks on their quality of life. These include human rights, codified in the Human Rights Act 1998, and hard-won rights relating to protest. Groups from communities we work with also rely on these rights to fight for better protections in future. Protest has a proud history in Greater Manchester, from Peterloo, the Suffragettes and the Battle of Bexley Square to the Section 28 demonstrations by the LGBT community.

Recently all of these rights have been under attack by the government. In order to campaign effectively, GMLC needs these rights to remain in place, and supports efforts to keep them in tact.

Protest rights

In April 2022, the government passed the the Police Crime Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Bill. It is now called the PCSC Act 2022.

We opposed the Bill as part of the Kill the Bill Coalition in Greater Manchester since it was announced in March 2021. We believe the PCSC Act should be repealed, as it poses a serious threat to the communities we represent and work with in Greater Manchester.

The PCSC Bill gives police powers to limit, repress and criminalise protest. It is a huge Bill that also enables more Stop and Search without reasonable suspicion, and targets homeless people and Gypsy Roma Traveller (GRT) communities for further criminalisation.

For a summary of problems with the PCSC Act, check out:

Though the Act has passed, we believe it will need to be repealed or significantly amended to protect people’s rights and prevent authorities from breaching individuals’ human rights.

Things you can do to oppose the Act with us:

We also oppose the 2022 Public Order Bill, which aims to push through changes that the House of Lords voted out of the PCSC Act, discussed above. This includes criminalising “disruptive” but peaceful protest tactics such as “locking on” (attaching oneself to objects or other people to block access to a place: for example, attaching oneself to fences or trees on sites where fracking or environmental destruction is planned). Peaceful protest is an important way of achieving social change and the right to peacefully protest, even in disruptive ways, should be protected.

 

The Human Rights Act

In 2022, the government announced that it intends to replace the Human Rights Act with a UK Bill of Rights, a move that has been strongly criticised by human rights organisations. GMLC uses human rights where they are necessary to protect a basic standard of living for our clients. Having looked into the UK Bill of Rights proposals, we believe it risks undermining rights that need to be upheld to ensure individuals cannot be treated inhumanely by authorities with no recourse to justice. Read our articles on the issue below.

 

Other rights we defend

We need an accessible and fair justice system so that everyone has access to justice and can enforce their rights. This needs to be the case regardless of how much money they have, their nationality, what language they speak, or what disadvantages they experience in society. We campaign on access to justice to achieve this. Sometimes, this involves trying to protect legal processes that ensure authorities can be held accountable. For example, we spoke out against the Judicial Review and Courts Act 2022. We will continue to push back against other changes that threaten the fairness of our legal system.

 

Our recent articles

Stylised cartoon Kill the Bill poster, with a masked woman holding a placard saying "Protest Is Our Human Right".
Image shows a person holding up an placard that reads "LIBERTY IS LOUD" at a demonstration against the Police Bill outside Manchester Central Library.
Photo shows the PCS Samba band outside the Manchester Civil Justice Centre playing drums, at a protest against the Police Bill 2021.

#KillTheBill: interview with protest lawyer Simon Pook

GMLC has been opposing the Police Crime Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Bill as part of the Kill the Bill Coalition in Greater Manchester. The PCSC Bill is a severe threat…

Stop the PCSC Bill before it stops (and searches) you!

As the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts (PCSC) Bill reaches its final stages in Parliament, GMLC volunteer contributor Jess Roper reflects on the significance of its controversial stop and search…

Ask your MP to oppose the Police Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021

Please find below a template letter to ask your MP to vote against the Police Crime Sentencing and Courts Bill 2021.  This letter is particularly aimed at the residents of…