The European Convention on Human Rights.
Article 2 – Right to Life
Article 3 – Prohibition of Torture
Article 4 – Prohibition of Slavery and Forced Labour
Article 5 – Right to Liberty and Security
Article 6 – Right to a Fair Trial
Article 7 – No Punishment without Law
Article 8 – Right to Respect for Private and Family Life
Everyone has the right to respect for their private and family life, their home and their correspondence. Public authorities (police, etc.) should not interfere with this right, except when it is lawful to do so, when it is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
Article 9 – Freedom of Thought, Conscience and Religion
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. The includes the right to change your religion or belief and the freedom to manifest your religion (in worship, practice and observance) in public or in private, alone of in community with others. This freedom is subject only to limitations which are prescribed by laws and are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of public safety, the the protection of public order, health or morals or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
Article 10 – Freedom of Expression
Everyone has the right to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by a public authority and regardless of frontiers. The exercise of these freedoms carries with it responsibilities and duties so it may be subject to formalities, conditions, restrictions and penalties that are prescribed by law and are necessary in a democratic society, in the interests of national security, territorial integrity or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, for the protection of the reputation or rights of others, for preventing the disclosure of information received in confidence or for maintaining the authority and impartiality of the judiciary.
Article 11 – Freedom of Assembly and Association
Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and to freedom of association with others, including the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of their interests. No restrictions should be placed on the exercise of these rights other than those which are necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security or public safety, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others. This Article shall not prevent the imposition of lawful restrictions on the exercise of these rights by members of the armed forces, of the police or of the administration of the state.
Article 12 – Right to Marry
Article 14 – Prohibition of Discrimination
Article 16 – Restrictions on political activity of aliens
Nothing in Articles 10, 11 and 14 shall be regarded as preventing the High Contracting Parties from imposing restrictions on the political activity of aliens.
The Human Rights Act 1998.
Section 6. Acts of public authorities.
(1)It is unlawful for a public authority to act in a way which is incompatible with a Convention right.
(2)Subsection (1) does not apply to an act if—
(a)as the result of one or more provisions of primary legislation, the authority could not have acted differently; or
(b)in the case of one or more provisions of, or made under, primary legislation which cannot be read or given effect in a way which is compatible with the Convention rights, the authority was acting so as to give effect to or enforce those provisions.
(3)In this section “public authority” includes—
(a)a court or tribunal, and
(b)any person certain of whose functions are functions of a public nature,
but does not include either House of Parliament or a person exercising functions in connection with proceedings in Parliament.
Section 7. Proceedings.
(1)A person who claims that a public authority has acted (or proposes to act) in a way which is made unlawful by section 6(1) may—
(a)bring proceedings against the authority under this Act in the appropriate court or tribunal, or
(b)rely on the Convention right or rights concerned in any legal proceedings,
but only if he is (or would be) a victim of the unlawful act.
(2)In subsection (1)(a) “appropriate court or tribunal” means such court or tribunal as may be determined in accordance with rules; and proceedings against an authority include a counterclaim or similar proceeding.
(3)If the proceedings are brought on an application for judicial review, the applicant is to be taken to have a sufficient interest in relation to the unlawful act only if he is, or would be, a victim of that act.
(4)If the proceedings are made by way of a petition for judicial review in Scotland, the applicant shall be taken to have title and interest to sue in relation to the unlawful act only if he is, or would be, a victim of that act.
(5)Proceedings under subsection (1)(a) must be brought before the end of—
(a)the period of one year beginning with the date on which the act complained of took place; or
(b)such longer period as the court or tribunal considers equitable having regard to all the circumstances,
but that is subject to any rule imposing a stricter time limit in relation to the procedure in question.
(6)In subsection (1)(b) “legal proceedings” includes—
(a)proceedings brought by or at the instigation of a public authority; and
(b)an appeal against the decision of a court or tribunal.
(7)For the purposes of this section, a person is a victim of an unlawful act only if he would be a victim for the purposes of Article 34 of the Convention if proceedings were brought in the European Court of Human Rights in respect of that act.
(8)Nothing in this Act creates a criminal offence.
So, Articles 10 and 11 of the European Convention protect your freedom of expression and freedom of association. This means, for example, that you can take part in a peaceful protest on a public street as part of a group of people. It means that all laws have to be interpreted in conjunction with the Human Rights Act 1998 (and therefore the European Convention). In reality, the HRA holds very little weight in the courts, although it has proved useful in relation to determining that stalls and protests are a reasonable use of a highway. It doesn’t protect you fully from the use of legislation against protests as these rights are “qualified rights”, meaning that they can be interfered with in the interests of maintaining public safety and preventing crime and disorder. Any interference with our human rights must be allowed by law and must be necessary and proportionate to the desired aim.