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Pro-life groups should not be banned from campuses, says equalities chief

The University of Aberdeen. (SilvanBachmann/Shutterstock)

Universities should be 'bastions of debate and defenders of expression', the chair of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission said

Pro-life and Christian groups should not be denied affiliation with their university students’ unions, the chair of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has said.

Criticizing student unions who have denied requests by such groups to be affiliated with the student body, participate at Freshers’ Fairs, or book rooms for club events, David Isaac said the actions of the student unions were “not consistent with ensuring freedom of speech on campus, and the EHRC guidance makes clear that it should not happen”.

Speaking at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, Isaac said universities should be “bastions of debate and defenders of expression”.

Isaac said some university student unions were “promoting their own very narrow policies which don’t extend the principles of freedom of expression,” saying “one has to remind students’ unions, and the universities in which those students’ unions sit, about their current legal obligations which I think would allow affiliations of pro-life organisations and groups”.

“We are living in an age of hypersensitivity where it is increasingly easier for people to feel offended – or others to be worried about protecting minority groups.”

Recently, the Aberdeen Life Ethics Society was denied affiliation with its university by the students’ association until they threatened the association with a lawsuit.

The Glasgow Students for Life also faced the same predicament and were similarly accepted after threatening legal action.