Christian group sues Google after search engine refuses to take its abortion adverts
By SIMON CALDWELL 9th April 2008
A Christian group is suing Google over the internet giant's refusal to take its anti-abortion adverts.
The Christian Institute, a "non-denominational Christian charity", wanted to pay Google so that whenever the word "abortion" was typed into the popular search engine, its link would appear on the side of the screen.
The link would have read: "UK abortion law - news and views on abortion from the Christian Institute. www.christian.org.uk ."
But Google refused the advert because it said it had a policy of declining sites which mixed the issue of abortion with religious views.
Its Dublin-based advertising team replied: "At this time, Google policy does not permit the advertisement of websites that contain 'abortion and religion-related content'."
Google does, however, accept adverts for abortion clinics, secular pro-abortion sites and secularist sites which attack religion.
The Christian Institute has now started legal proceedings against Google on the grounds that it is infringing the Equality Act 2006 by discriminating against Christian groups.
It is seeking damages, costs and the permission to publish its advertisement.
Mike Judge, Christian Institute spokesman, said: "For many people, Google is the doorway to the internet.
"If there is to be a free exchange of ideas then Google cannot give special free speech rights to secular groups whilst censoring religious views.
"To say that religious sites with material on abortion are 'unacceptable content' (while) advertising pornography is ridiculous."
The group was supported by the Christian former Tory minister Ann Widdecombe, who said: "It does seem to me to be the most appalling and blatant case of religious discrimination and also to be a very silly attempt to stifle due debate."
The institute sought to promote its online articles on abortion ahead of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill arriving in the House of Commons next month.
The Bill will provide the first opportunities in 18 years for MPs to vote on the upper time limit for abortions: currently 24 weeks