The Education Secretary has called for respectful and courteous debate after he was harassed by LGBT activists at the University of Warwick.
Nadhim Zahawi had to be protected by campus security guards when activists protested outside a talk he was giving to the University’s Conservative Association.
But writing for The Mail on Sunday, Mr Zahawi said their intention to stop his speech and shut down discussion has made him “more convinced than ever that the chilling crushing of free speech needs to be countered”.
‘No moral compass’
While ministers say they plan to tighten legislation through the Freedom of Speech (Higher Education) Bill, Zahawi said more needs to be done to bring “our culture back towards the virtues of open expression”.
the chilling crushing of free speech needs to be countered
Zahawi said: “Put simply, sometimes we must hear and consider points of view that we disagree with,” warning that those who resort to personal insults, intimidation or attempt to dehumanise their opponents “have lost their moral compass”.
The activists were protesting because of previous comments made by Zahawi on transgenderism, accusing him of inciting hatred for defining women as ‘adult human females’.
He said he “will never deny biology and the safety and security of women must be the priority”.
The Education Secretary said some student groups even believe that hearing ideas they do not like is equivalent to suffering violence. He rejected this claim and promised to continue to “protect the right to freedom of speech”.
He concluded: “Passing freedom on to the young and preserving it for them, rather than shielding them from views they disagree with, is the greatest service we can give them.”