Pro-Life Charity Banned from Three UK Universities

Country: United Kingdom

Date of incident: September 14, 2018

Category: Social Hostility / Intolerance

Attack against: Faith / Morals

Area of case: Education

Student Unions in Manchester, Warwick, and Liverpool rejected the Life charity's application to appear at their Freshers' Fairs. The Warwick Students' Union rejected Life because its members "voted to adopt a pro-choice stance." Manchester said the Fair was an inappropriate platform, while Liverpool said the charity would not offer "impartial advice" to students. Life said its displays inform students that help is available if they get pregnant. The charity filed a complaint to the Office for Students (OfS) citing discrimination and restrictions on freedom of speech. It noted that the Chair of OfS had earlier promoted the protection of freedom of speech.

In July 2018, Office for Students Chair Sir Michael Barber commented on the publication "Cracking the code: A practical guide for university free speech policies:

“Those universities and colleges registering with us are required to demonstrate how they uphold freedom of speech. As I have said before, it is not our job to tell universities precisely how to do this. We respect institutional autonomy and are pleased that HEPI has grasped the initiative in publishing this report. We are also keen to encourage further work by the sector in this area. Individual institutions need to develop policies which reflect their own community, values and culture; there will be no single approach that works for all. The Office for Students will work to ensure all registered providers have robust and effective management and governance arrangements in place to protect and promote freedom of speech. Where we have concerns, we will not hesitate to intervene to uphold this fundamental principle.”

Sources: MSN, Life charity complaint to Office for Students; Office for Students Statement on HEPI free speech guide