- The Autonomous University of Baja California has ruled that proceedings initiated by professors to sanction graduate, Christian Cortez Pérez, for speech were unfounded
- Christian was at risk of losing his license to practice psychology, among other sanctions
Ensenada, Mexico (22 September 2022) – The Autonomous University of Baja California has ruled against a petition to withhold the professional license of valedictorian, Christian Cortez Pérez, finding that claims put forward by professors to sanction him were “unfounded”.
“I am overjoyed that the University has recognized that I committed no wrong in exercising my free speech rights to speak about issues of profound moral concern from the graduation podium. What happened to me shows how dangerous it is when professors with agendas try to punish students with whom they disagree. Academic institutions must respect the free speech rights of all students, and this is a great win for fundamental freedoms,” stated Christian in response to the ruling.
A Career At Risk
As the top of his class at the University’s School of Medicine and Psychology, Christian earned the right to deliver the commencement address at his graduation ceremony on 27 June 2022. In his speech, he voiced his deeply held moral convictions regarding the state of the world today on many issues, including the importance of the family and the value of unborn life.
In response to the speech, a group of professors published a “manifesto,” calling for an effective ban on Christian’s professional practice as a psychologist. The University followed by initiating formal proceedings to address the following: 1) withholding his professional license, 2) withdrawing his merit award, and 3) alerting psychology associations across Mexico about his statements.
In its ruling, issued on 21 September 2022, the University Council held that, “the arguments presented by the aggrieved party are unfounded, as well as the sanctions requested, for which reason the appeal filed is dismissed”.
“This ruling makes clear that the vindictive attack on Christian by his professors was groundless. While it is very unfortunate that Christian had to go through this completely inappropriate ordeal, let this be a clear signal to all that students have the right to voice their views in a public university. Free speech is fundamental for flourishing intellectual life both in and beyond school,” stated Carlos Ramirez, lead lawyer for Christian’s case in Mexico.
Win for Free Speech
On account of widespread violations, international bodies repeatedly have called on Mexico to correct its stance on freedom of speech.
Kristina Hjelkrem, legal counsel for ADF International, which supported the case noted the following: “As the subject of a silencing and sanctioning campaign initiated by his professors, Christian suffered severe reputational harm, in addition to the real threat of losing the ability to practice his profession. Not only is this representative of cancel culture at its worst, but also efforts to punish him contravened the fundamental human right to free speech enshrined in international law. All concerned with the protection of free speech should take note”.
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