ADF International

Freedom of speech upheld at Glasgow University following legal challenge

Summary

  • Pro-life group “Glasgow Students for Life” granted affiliation with student representative body
  • Victory for freedom of expression and association on campus

GLASGOW (21 March 2019) – On 20 March, the pro-life student society “Glasgow Students for Life” was granted affiliation by the Glasgow University Students’ Representative Council. This followed a legal challenge to the decision to deny the group membership in December 2018. The society’s views on the right to life differed from those of the Council. With the help of ADF International, the “Glasgow Students for Life” argued that this decision violated the UK Equality Act of 2010 resulting in the representative council reversing their previous decision. As a result, they agreed to grant the pro-life group affiliation.

Of all places, a university is where students should be free to debate and explore ideas, even those with which we may disagree. It simply does not work when a students’ body ‘picks sides’ and censors the one with which it disagrees.

“Freedom of speech is the foundation of every free and democratic society. Of all places, a university is where students should be free to debate and explore ideas, even those with which we may disagree. It simply does not work when a students’ body ‘picks sides’ and censors the one with which it disagrees. It is sad that it took the prospect of legal proceedings for the Representative Council to recognize this. We congratulate the ‘Glasgow Students for Life’ on their new affiliation,” said Laurence Wilkinson, Legal Counsel for ADF International in London.

Protecting campus free speech

In 2018, the Joint Committee on Human Rights released a report on Freedom of Speech in Universities. Apart from growing restrictions to free speech, it criticized the new phenomenon of “no-platforming” policies on UK campuses, referring to the exclusion of certain political opinions. Despite this, Glasgow Students for Life is one of many university pro-life groups which have faced difficulties in affiliating with umbrella student bodies. Across the UK, groups at universities such as Strathclyde, Exeter, Birmingham, Aberdeen, Warwick, and Durham have suffered limitations on their ability to speak freely on campus and enjoy the same benefits as other student societies.

Grace Deighan, President of ‘Glasgow Students for Life’ said, “We are grateful that the Students’ Representative Council have decided to affiliate Glasgow Students for Life and we look forward to starting a conversation on campus. The group’s intention is one that is primarily academic, and given that there are other pro-abortion and pro-euthanasia groups affiliated, we believe that it is only fair for the pro-life argument to have a place at the despatch box.”

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Faith-based legal advocacy organization that protects fundamental freedoms and promotes the inherent dignity of all people.