The Guild are taking down the ‘Ban Pro-Life’ petition from their website

They say that banning it violates the university free speech policy

free speech LGOS liv uni liverpool phil soc pro-life society The Guild

In a statement released today, the Liverpool Guild of Students have announced that they are removing the petition started by fourth year History and Spanish student Katriana Ciccotto to ban the Liverpool University Pro-Life Society from their website. The Pro-Life Society will continue to be approved as a society by the Guild as banning it violates the University freedom of speech policy. 

The petition, which had already amassed over 123 votes by Monday lunchtime, claimed that the Pro-Life society was “founded on the sole basis that women should oblige to their beliefs. One that denies a woman the right to her own body. These are not religious ideas, they are misogynistic and hateful”.

The Guild claimed that as part of the University’s policy and code of practise on freedom of speech, they are “required to ensure that individuals and groups are free, within the law, to hold meetings or other activities regardless of the beliefs, views, policies or objectives of that individual or body”.

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They said that: “We understand that this is an issue that inspires strong feelings on both sides, and we are committed to working with our members to ensure that the debate is carried out in line with our Code of Conduct, in a respectful and inclusive way”

They also said: “We maintain our support and commitment to women’s rights”.

The statement comes a day after the Pro-Life Society President released an exclusive statement on The Tab Liverpool defending their society, and claiming that they “aim to represent the very many women who regret their abortions and who are tragically and unfairly silenced, sometimes even by other women” and to “be a voice of support for women who want to be mothers while at university”.

Eleanor, a third year student at the university who ‘liked’ the petition, indicating that she thought the Guild should ban the society, said: “Isn’t it against free speech to remove the petition?”

Everyone who voted on the petition will receive an email outlining the Guild’s reasons for pulling it from the website. The full statement can be read below:



“Following the registration of a pro-life society at the Guild, we received a proposal through our “Change it” platform, calling for the society to be closed down. Over the past few days this idea has received considerable attention and student input. We would like to thank all the students who let the Guild know their thoughts on this matter. We understand that there was an expectation from many members that, due to the interest shown this matter would be referred to the Guild Summit.

As part of the University’s Policy and Code of Practice on Freedom of Speech the Guild is required to ensure that individuals and groups are free, within the law, to hold meetings or other activities “regardless of the beliefs, views, policies or objectives of that individual or body.” Further, the law makes clear that students unions have to “ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that the use of premises of the establishment is not denied to any individual or body or persons on any ground connected with (a) the beliefs or views of that individual or any member of that body; or (b) the policy objectives of that body.” (Education (No.2) Act 1986).

This means that the Guild is unable to turn down a proposal for a society simply on the basis of that group’s ideas or views, unless those opinions break the law. Our requirement to protect free speech means that, even if our democratic structures were to decide that they did not wish to approve a particular society, we would be unable to act on that direction, as doing so would be in breach of our obligations to protect free speech. We recognise that this will disappoint members who wanted this matter to be discussed, however, we do not believe it is fair to give students the impression that they are able to make change, where this is not the case.

We understand that this is an issue that inspires strong feelings on both sides, and we are committed to working with our members to ensure that the debate is carried out in line with our Code of Conduct, in a respectful and inclusive way.  

We understand the concerns our members have raised about women’s rights on campus and we maintain our support and commitment to women’s rights. The Guild’s priority remains ensuring that all of our members feel safe and supported. We are committed to ensuring that any student who needs support can access non-judgemental, confidential advice that empowers them to make the right decision for themselves. 


The statement, and advice for students affected by the subject, can be found here.