A Christian group in the United Kingdom is suing Google, claiming the dominant search engine company engaged in religious discrimination by refusing to take its pro-life advertisements, the Daily Mail reports.
The group was trying to publicize its articles against abortion before a controversial vote in the House of Commons that could place restrictions on abortion.
The Christian Institute, which describes itself as a “non-denominational Christian charity,” wanted to purchase an advertisement that would be displayed whenever the word “abortion” was typed into the search engine.
The proposed advertisement, which would have linked to the group’s web site, reads "UK abortion law - news and views on abortion from the Christian Institute. www.christian.org.uk."
Google’s Dublin-based advertising office said that their refusal was based off of a company policy. “At this time, Google policy does not permit the advertisement of websites that contain 'abortion and religion-related content'," the office said, according to the Daily Mail.
However, Google does accept advertisements for abortion clinics, secular pro-abortion sites, and secularist sites which attack religion.
The advertisement was part of the Christian Institute’s efforts to promote its on-line articles on abortion before legislation regulating the practice arrived in the House of Commons.
Next month’s vote on the Human Fertilization and Embryology Bill provides the House of Commons its first opportunity in 18 years to vote on the upper time limit for legal abortions.
The Christian Institute has filed a lawsuit against Google, arguing the company discriminates against Christians in violation of the Equality Act 2006. The institute is seeking damages, costs, and permission to publish its advertisement.
The Daily Mail reports that Mike Judge, a spokesman for the Christian Institute, called Google 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,” Judge said.
"To say that religious sites with material on abortion are 'unacceptable content' [while] advertising pornography is ridiculous," Judge insisted.
The institute has the support of former Tory MP Anne Widdecomb, a Catholic, 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.”