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Students outraged as union votes to ban pro-life rallies

By on Thursday, 10 April 2014

Pro-life protests, like this one in Dublin, could be banned at Cardiff University (PA)

Pro-life protests, like this one in Dublin, could be banned at Cardiff University (PA)

Muslims, Catholics, Evangelical Christians and pro-abortion students have joined forces to oppose moves to stop pro-life students from demonstrating or protesting on the Cardiff University campus.

Presidents of the Islamic Society, the Catholic Society and the Pro-Life Society attended a student senate meeting last week to contest a motion that would require the student union to “prevent affiliated societies and groups from taking part in anti-choice protests or rallies”.

Following a three-and-a-half hour debate, during which students tried to persuade the student senate to vote against the motion, an indicative vote was held which showed a majority in support of the controversial motion.

A secret ballot then followed in order to reach the final decision but the votes were never released after it emerged that according to procedural rules, the senate was not quorate, which means the vote was void and would have to be re-scheduled. Students from Life learned about the vote only three days before it was due to take place.

Isaac Spencer, who is president of Cardiff University’s Students For Life, said: “Lots of people got in touch with us to express their huge concern about the motion. By the Monday I had received approximately 80 emails. A large chunk of them were from students who identified as ‘pro-choice’ but were appalled by how far the motion went to restrict freedom of expression and blatantly attacked Students for Life.

“By Sunday night, two days before the meeting and vote, we formed a broad-based coalition for freedom of speech representing and supported by the Islamic Society, the Catholic society, the Christian Medical Fellowship and the Christian Union, as well as individual students from every course, political affiliation and background, both pro-life and pro-choice, female and male.”

Neil Addison, a barrister who specialises in religious freedom, said: “This is another demonstration of the increasing tendency of student unions to adopt intolerant and totalitarian policies against views with which certain groups disagree. Universities should be bulwarks of free speech and debate but instead they are becoming increasingly intolerant and closed-minded… If the student union proceeds with this then the union and the university could and should be taken to court and an injunction applied for.”

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