The Students’ Union of Strathclyde University has voted to remove a clause preventing pro-life groups from being affiliated with it.
The Union accepted that its ban on pro-life groups has been discriminatory and a violation of freedom of speech following a challenge from the pro-life Strathclyde Students for Life group.
Lifting the ban has been acknowledged as “a victory for academic freedom”.
‘Inaccurate and discriminatory’
In 2015, the Strathclyde Students for Life group applied to be affiliated with the Students’ Union to promote the dignity of human life from conception.
This application was denied by the University of Strathclyde SU which claimed: “Allowing an anti-choice group to form would be a barrier to freedom, equality and body autonomy for those with uteruses on campus.”
The pro-life group called these assertions ‘inaccurate’ and ‘discriminatory’.
President of the pro-life group, Catherine Farrelly, said: “We only want to start a conversation about life ethics on campus, to discuss the moral and ethical issues surrounding abortion and euthanasia”.
The group challenged the SU policy and the grounds that it breeched their human rights to freedom of expression and discriminated against them contrary to the Equality Act.
A member of the group, Jamie McGowan said: “Ultimately, this is a victory for academic freedom: universities are meant to be bastions of free thought.”
“The ‘no-platform’ clause discriminated against a group of students because of their beliefs and, as the case law on this matter tells us, ‘philosophical beliefs’ such as opposition to abortion are protected from discrimination”.
John Deighan of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) Scotland said the outcome “is a hopeful sign that intolerance to differing views on abortion and other socially contentious issues will no longer be permitted to silence reasoned debate.
“Those who hold the pro-life position have no fear of genuine debate and of all places a university should be a place which welcomes such an attitude.”