Opponents of the Church of Scientology have accused the controversial organisation of attempting to ban a pair of HIV-positive protesters.
Lawyers acting for Scientology are allegedly using medical information about two protesters picketing a Scientology facility near Hemet, California in an attempt to prevent the duo's attendance at further demos. The two protesters Angry Gay Pope and Happy Smurf, a former Scientologist, are contesting the legal action, which would prevent them protesting at the important facility (known internally as Gold Base). The pair, both openly gay, have the representation of attorney Graham Berry.
The ongoing battle between the Church of Scientology and the loosely-affiliated Anonymous collective has seen an explosion in protests over the last year. Scientologists have allegedly used false reports to the police, physical attacks and loudspeakers to curtail or frustrate protests at Gold Base.
The Scientologists' legal petition against the protesters alleges that they pose a "threat" to the wellbeing of 500 Scientology workers. Critics portray the move as a continuation of the organisation's hostility to homosexuality, which has included claims that it is able to "cure homosexuality" and providing financial support for Proposition 8, a law in California that bans the marriage of homosexual couples.
In a statement issued by the Anonymous collective, the group described the group's latest anti-protest tactics as "downright sickening, illegal, and an insult to members of the LGBT community and HIV patients worldwide".
We emailed requests for comment to the Church of Scientology and Graham Berry, lawyer for the protesters, on Wednesday. We'll update this story as and when we hear back from them. ®