BY Peter Diamond | March 29 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

GSL

Glasgow pro-life group successful in battle for affiliation to students’ union

Glasgow University’s student union has said it will allow a pro-life student society to officially affiliate, after it was forced to admitting that refusing the group permission breached equality law.

Glasgow Students for Life (GSL) first applied to the Students’ Representative Council (SRC) for affiliation in October 2018. They were denied permission the following month.

Following this rejection, GSL submitted an equality complaint, arguing that the SRC had directly discriminated against the group of students on account of their beliefs, which is a protected characteristic of the Equality Act 2010.

In doing so, the SRC also violated their own Equality and Diversity Policy by denying the group access to their facilities.

Despite the complaint, during the SRC’s meeting in December, the group almost unanimously voted to ignore their breach of the Equality Act, leaving GSL with no option but to consider further legal action.

In a press release, GSL said: “In our recent letter to the SRC, we highlighted that the discrimination was so obvious that our complaint was completely uncontroversial.

“Under Part 7 of the Equality Act, GUSRC is an ‘association’ and as such it must not discriminate against its members (sections 100 and 101).

“Under section 101(2) of the Act, it provides that an association must not discriminate against a member in the way it affords or denies access to a ‘benefit, facility or service.’

“The SRC’s refusal to grant affiliation to GSL prevents its associated students from enjoying the benefits of SRC membership—benefits which are otherwise afforded to pro-abortion student societies.”

‘Imminent legal action’

“Aware of the imminent legal action, the SRC came to the conclusion that the rejection of GSL’s affiliation was indeed a form of direct discrimination against the group of students,” the release continues.

“In an e-mail to our legal advisors, the SRC stated that ‘it has been agreed that GSL can affiliate to GUSRC.’ Glasgow Students for Life are currently looking forward to this becoming a reality.”

The SRC told a student newspaper: “The SRC have no option but to affiliate the anti-choice society Glasgow Students for Life following threats of legal action.

“The anti-abortion society threatened to sue the SRC for discrimination after they were denied affiliation in December 2018.

“The SRC have since sought legal advice to defend their decision, but have been advised that as anti-choice beliefs are considered a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010, there is no legal basis to fight the lawsuit.”

Freedom of belief

SRC president Lauren McDougall said: “The SRC executive believe that we must prioritise the safety and wellbeing of the majority of our students over the views of a vocal minority which is why Council chose not to affiliate Glasgow Students for Life in December.

“We respect everyone’s right to hold their own beliefs, nonetheless, as I’ve said before, a line is crossed when those beliefs impact on the rights of others.

“However, as anti-choice beliefs have been established under EU case law as a protected characteristic, we have been left with no choice but to affiliate GSL.”

Future conversation

Grace Deighan, president of Glasgow Students for Life said: “We are grateful that the SRC have decided to affiliate Glasgow Students for Life and we look forward to starting a conversation on campus.

“We intend to hold lectures and debates, discussing issues such as abortion, euthanasia, IVF treatment and other contentious bioethical issues.

“The group’s intention is one that is primarily academic, and given that there are other pro-abortion and pro-euthanasia groups affiliated to the SRC, we believe that it is only fair for the pro-life argument to have a place at the despatch box.”

This story highlights a growing trend of students’ unions attempting to censor the pro-life viewpoint, especially in Scotland.

The Aberdeen University’s Life Ethics Society were unanimously blocked from being affiliated to the Aberdeen University Students Association last month at the AGM.

The Life Ethics Society are now exploring the same legal path GSL took and hope the matter will be resolved soon.

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