Free speech means being able to comment publicly about many issues, including health. We support the national immunisation program, but acknowledge the right of opponents to speak out. Civil Liberties Australia does not believe that the government has a right to prohibit the speech of individual anti-vaxers, nor to compel an individual presenting at a conference to voice an “official” government opinion.
The government and individuals should counter misleading advice by using their own speech to promote facts, not by silencing the voices of others.
Already, the protest against an anti-vax campaigner has managed to air her views more widely than if nothing had been said against her, and she had been – quietly – permitted to go ahead with her addresses to mere handfuls of the already converted anti-vax community who are likely to comprise the majority of her audience.
Many people would never have heard of the US anti-vax speaker if she had not been publicised by people trying to curtail her right to free speech. It is an irony that their efforts to suppress her views are only giving them more widespread currency.