1981 August 13

“Heckler’s Veto”: NYC Mayor Koch Bans Rugby Match by South African Team


On this day, New York City Mayor Ed Koch cancelled a permit for a rugby match that involved a team from South Africa. At the time, there was a national and international movement to boycott South Africa-related events as a protest against its racial segregation policy of Apartheid. Mayor Koch claimed that he cancelled the event out of fear of disturbances arising from local protests. The New York Civil Liberties Union criticized him by arguing that he was yielding to a “heckler’s veto.”

Learn more: Brian Lapping, Apartheid: A History (1986)

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