National MP Simon O'Connor accuses Black Lives Matter activists of bullying over anti-abortion billboard

A National MP is accusing Black Lives Matter activists of "harassment and bullying" after they threatened to vandalise an anti-abortion advertisement.

Simon O'Connor says they are "crying faux tears" and "silencing different viewpoints" after the controversy erupted online.

Last year a 'Both Lives Matter' billboard was set up in Wellington by anti-abortion group Voice for Life. It depicts a pregnant woman holding an ultrasound photo of an unborn baby on her stomach with the caption: "Both deserve better than an extreme abortion law".

A complaint about the billboard was rejected by the chair of the Advertising Standards Authority Complaints Board in October 2019.

However a Black Lives Matter supporter recently posted a photo of the billboard in a Facebook group, sparking accusations the slogan is too similar to that of the Black Lives Matters movement.

The post's author wrote: "I'm disgusted this was allowed to be put up. And with that 'slogan' in this time?? The undertone is distasteful it's not right man."

Among the nearly-200 comments was discussion over how to cover up the image with eggs, balloons and paint.

O'Connor says what Black Lives Matter has been doing is unacceptable.

"Welcome to modern harassment and bullying, with added threats of violence," he wrote on Facebook.

"Those crying faux tears over these billboards are your supposed tolerant, liberal, and progressive types, but all they seek is to silence those they don't like.

"It doesn't matter what your particular view on abortion is, but silencing different viewpoints is simply anti-democratic."

The ad was rented to Voice for Life by billboard company Media5. Director of Media5 Alf Jamieson says the advertisement was not intended to have any resemblance to the Black Lives Matter movement, calling it an "unfortunate coincidence".

Voice for Life media spokesperson Kate Cormack told Newshub that the phrase 'both lives matter' has been used "for many years" in the pro-life movement.

Jamieson says Media5 does not support Voice For Life's position on Abortion Law Reform, but allowed the group to book the billboard space due to the freedom of expression granted by New Zealand's Bill of Rights.

"A democracy doesn't work if we don't allow people we disagree with their own right of expression," Jamieson says.

Jamieson told Newshub the billboard would be removed on Wednesday when Voice For Life's contract ends.