CONCERNS over the restriction of freedom of speech on university campuses across the UK have emerged in Scotland.

The student association at Strathclyde University has banned pro-life supporters from setting up an official group affiliated to the union.

The move means students who support anti-abortion views cannot obtain university funding for promotional events or to attend conferences.

A minute of a meeting of the University of Strathclyde Students’ Association (USSA) said: “Anti-choice groups actively use intimidation and fear tactics to harass people entering abortion clinics.

“The establishment of anti-choice groups would directly contravene equal opportunities policy by giving them a platform to harass students. This in turn violates their safe space.

“Allowing an anti-choice group to form would be a barrier to freedom, equality

and body autonomy for those with uteruses on campus and therefore not only

violate existing standing policy, but also act against the interests of a large amount

of the student population.”

However, pro-life students from Strathclyde said the move was a violation of their right to free speech under the European Convention of Human Rights.

The students are also angry because have previously tried to access funding for events, but were told they had to affiliate with the student association first. The association then passed the blanket motion banning “anti-choice” groups.

The row comes at a time when there are growing concerns that universities have become too politically correct and are stifling free speech by banning anything that causes offence.

Oxford University cancelled a debate on abortion after female students complained that they would be offended by the presence of men on the panel.

Cardiff University students tried to ban the feminist icon Germaine Greer because she once wrote that a man who was castrated would not behave like a woman, which was construed as offensive to transsexuals.

Jamie McGowan, a pro-life student from Strathclyde, said: “It is deplorable that a modern university is incapable of facilitating debate on a societal or medical issue such as abortion.

“Ironically, they will happily take positions on politics, but refuse to allow political debate and we feel this policy is a violation of freedom of speech.”

Chloe Lindsey, an English student at the university added: “The suppression of freedom of speech has no place in a university which claims to be liberal and forward-thinking.”

However, Raj Jayaraj, president of USSA, defended the move saying policy made clear access to abortions was deemed fundamental to women’s equality.

And he said the group could seek a university-wide referendum to have the ruling overturned.

He said: “If a society’s beliefs contradicts association policy then it is not allowed to affiliate.”

He added: “If a society representing the British National Party came on campus then we would not allow them to affiliate.”