Pro-life students are being 'marginalised and silenced' at British universities

A pro-life campaigner holds up a model of a 12-week-old embryo during a protest outside a clinic in Montgomery, Alabama.Reuters

Pro-life students at British universities are finding it difficult to speak about their views on abortion and the unborn, a poll has found. 

Nearly three-quarters of pro-life students (72%) said they felt "unable to speak" about their beliefs with fellow students or in lectures or seminars, according to research by the Alliance of Pro-Life Students (APS).

Many said they felt discriminated against by academics (27%) and peers (62%) because of their pro-life views, while over half (55%) said they had been told that their views were "unacceptable to express". 

The research also found that three quarters (74%) had been "threatened, abused, alarmed or distressed" by the actions or words of another student or academic because of their membership with a pro-life group. 

Nearly two thirds (65%) said they were aware of at least one event on campus that was cancelled or threatened with cancellation because the speaker was pro-life. 

The findings have been submitted to the parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, which has issued a call for evidence as part of a new inquiry into freedom of expression, part of which will examine universities.

Madeline Page of APS said: "These statistics are alarming, yet confirm what we already know – pro-life students are being marginalised and silenced at universities.

"Institutional policies which refuse to allow certain topics to be discussed don't just damage free speech – they destroy a culture of tolerance and respect on campus, ruining the chance for all students to engage with people of diverse opinions and understandings."

She added: "We trust that the Joint Committee on Human Rights will consider these results carefully as they reflect on the current status of freedom of expression in the UK. Intolerant censorship at our universities inevitably becomes intolerant censorship in wider society."