SPUC welcomes universities minister's proposals for new free speech guidelines
3 May 2018
Sam Gyimah MP suppressing views because they are "unfashionable" is "chilling".
This could be good news for student pro-life societies
SPUC has welcomed proposals to create a new set of guidelines to provide "much needed clarity" around free speech in universities.
In what is being claimed as the biggest intervention by ministers in campus free speech for more than 30 years, Sam Gyimah, the universities minister, met university and student leaders today to create a more straightforward set of guidelines for ensuring open debate on campus.
Pro-life students censored
In March, a report by the Joint Committee on Human Rights on free speech in universities highlighted the censorship faced by many groups on campus, and specifically mentioned pro-life student societies. The report quoted evidence from The Alliance of Pro-Life Students and Oxford Students for Life, among others, of pro-life groups being denied affiliation and events being shut down.
"Chilling" to suppress unpopular views
Mr Gyimah described the current regulations on free speech as "murky" and lacking in consistency - and for the first time wants a more coherent set of guidelines that can be used across institutions.
"A society in which people feel they have a legitimate right to stop someone expressing their views on campus simply because they are unfashionable or unpopular is rather chilling," he said.
Much needed initiative
Antonia Tully, Campaigns director at SPUC, today wrote to Mr Gyimah to welcome his proposals. "The pro-life position has never been “fashionable”, but it is an issue grounded in robust scientific, medical and ethical research," she said.
"Freedom of expression is one of the rights we cherish in this country and it is indeed 'chilling' when certain voices are silenced because they are unpalatable to others.
Mrs Tully thanked the minister for this "much needed initiative" and said "As the pro-life movement has been particularly targeted in recent acts of blocking free discussion in universities, you may wish to draw on our experience when formulating the new guidelines."
"The right to speak up for the most defenceless members of the human race, unborn babies, is one that SPUC will defend to the end, whether it be on university campuses or outside abortion facilities," she concluded.
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