University student unions should ban pro-life societies because they seek to ‘oppress’ half of all people on campus, an editor of a student newspaper has claimed.
Rikki Loftus, who is the Belfast Editor of the Tab, wrote that “if students’ unions want to maintain the idea that they represent their students, they have a moral obligation to ban pro-life groups”.
However, the Alliance of Pro-Life Students (APS) told The Christian Institute that pro-life societies are vital in presenting the message of life to students.
Alithea Williams, Vice-Chairman of APS, said: “Universities are where the leaders of tomorrow shape their views, and university is often the only place where the students get a chance to hear the pro-life message.”
Writing online, Rikki Loftus said that while universities “should not be a place of stifled speech”, pro-life societies should be prohibited.
She continued: “You wouldn’t see a Union supporting a society that advocates homophobia or racism.
“Pro-life groups are the only university society where its main purpose is intended to oppress half its students. So why haven’t universities banned them yet?”
“Universities need to be holding their societies to account and not support any group campaigning in favour of rights oppressions.
“It is a failure of any union that still funds a pro-life society on their campus”, she said.
Loftus also claimed that pro-lifers “represent everything that is backwards and wrong in Northern Ireland”.
The Alliance of Pro-Life Students, which works across England, Scotland and Wales to build pro-life communities on campus, commented: “Universities should be places where people can express their views and debate them – there can be no real dialogue when one half of the argument is shut down.”
Explaining that the desire to censor free speech is “becoming more and more common in universities”, Alithea Williams said that: “Pro-life societies have as much right to exist and respectfully put forward their views as any other group of students.”
“Pro-life societies also play a vital role in providing their fellow students with information on the help available if they find themselves in a crisis pregnancy, or are looking for post-abortion counselling”, she added.
A pro-life group was barred from the freshers’ fayre at Dundee University in 2014, while later in the same year an abortion debate was cancelled at an Oxford University college.
Last year a feminist activist and a gay journalist were banned from a free speech event – in a move described as “illiberal”.