A BAN on pro-life groups at a Scottish university has been lifted after a long-running row over freedom of speech on campus.

The students' association at Strathclyde University has voted to remove a clause preventing pro-life groups from affiliating with the union.

The move means pro-life groups who successfully affiliate with the University of Strathclyde Students' Association (Ussa) in future will be able to access funding for events.

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

Ussa has a long-standing policy on opposing the affiliation of pro-life groups which states: "Anti-choice groups actively use intimidation and fear tactics to harass people entering abortion clinics.

"The establishment of anti-choice groups at Ussa 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."

In March last year, Strathclyde Students for Life (SSfL) challenged the legality of the no-platforming policy, arguing that Ussa had violated the 2010 Equality Act by directly discriminating against students based on their beliefs.

The group also argued the students' association had violated students’ right to freedom of expression under the European Convention of Human Rights.

Jamie McGowan, who acted as a legal advisor to SSfL, said that, following its complaint, the board of trustee’s at Ussa concluded the clause was a form of direct discrimination and was therefore contrary to the equal opportunities policy of the students' association.

He said: "Ultimately, this is a victory for academic freedom. Universities are meant to be bastions of free thought and this "no platform" clause discriminated against a group of students because of their beliefs, which are protected from discrimination.

"Our main aim is to foster academic debate on campus surrounding abortion, euthanasia and other bioethical issues. Our mission is to promote the dignity and value of human life from conception."

Catherine Farrelly, president of SSfL, added: "We want to start a conversation about life ethics on campus to discuss the moral and ethical issues surrounding abortion and euthanasia.

"We also want to ensure women on campus know that abortion is not the only answer, and that we are here to offer support and care for women."

A spokesman for Ussa said: "We can confirm Student Parliament were asked to ratify a recommendation from trustee board to remove [the relevant section] from the policy ... that choice groups should not be affiliated to, funded or promoted.

"This was ratified, meaning that the section of the policy has been removed.

"The remainder of the policy is still live meaning that Strathclyde Students’ Union will continue to support access to safe abortion and support the bodily autonomy of their students and provide accurate and up to date information relating to abortions should a student seek it."

John Deighan, Scotland chief executive of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, welcomed the move.

He said: "The students at Strathclyde University are to be commended for upholding the importance of free speech in a democratic society.

"I understand that some with a different perspective on pro-life issues still saw that the principle of open debate had to be supported.

"This is a hopeful sign that the intolerance to differing views on abortion and other socially contentious issues will no longer be permitted to silence reasoned debate. Those who hold the pro-life position have no fear of genuine debate and of all places a university should be a place which welcomes such an attitude."

In 2014, 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.