The University of Strathclyde has decided to lift its ban on anti-abortion campaigners after acknowledging that it could be viewed as discrimination
After a lengthy debate on free speech on campus, anti-choice groups will now be able to affiliate themselves with the Strathclyde student union. The group was previously banned for violating the “safe space” the campus offered, as it prevented students from being able to express themselves freely and acted as a barrier against body autonomy.
Up until now, the University has had a long-standing policy against anti-choice groups. The student’s association at Strathclyde (USSA) stated: “Anti-choice groups actively use intimidation and fear tactics to harass people entering abortion clinics. The establishment of anti-choice groups would directly contravene the equal opportunities policy by giving them a platform to harass students.”
Anti-choice group Strathclyde Students for Life (SSfL) argued that disallowing their group a platform violated the 2010 Equality Act as it discriminated against students based on their beliefs.
Jamie McGowan, acting as legal advisor to SSfL, stated USSA concluded that the policy against anti-choice groups was a form of direct discrimination, as it contradicted the USSA’s own equal opportunities policy. However, the original policy states “anti-choice groups directly contravene the equal opportunities policy”, sparking a debate over free speech and freedom on campus.
Anti-choice groups will now have access to funding if they become affiliated with USSA.
President of SSfL 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.” She also stated that the group would spread the message that abortion is not the only answer, and they would be able to offer support to women in crises.
A USSA spokesman ensured that the union would still continue to support access to safe abortions, including providing up-to-date information relating to abortions if any of the student body requires it.
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