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20th February 2024

Students’ Union release statement in response to “Pro-Life Society” petition

The Students’ Union Exec team has released a statement outlining their legal position in regards to the creation of and affiliation with new societies
Students’ Union release statement in response to “Pro-Life Society” petition
Photo: The Mancunion.

On February 14, the Students’ Union released a statement regarding the recent creation of the “Pro-Life Society.”

The statement reiterates the legal basis from which it must operate regarding the creation and affiliation of new societies.

As a charity, the Students’ Union must provide equal opportunities to all members, “irrespective of their lawful views.”

In the statement, the Students’ Union notes that the priorities of the Student Exec team “are to ensure that every member has the opportunity to give us feedback, provide support to you and, crucially, to empower our members to actively engage in shaping their University experience and the world around them.”

The statement also reiterates the role of the Students’ Union as a platform to campaign over issues that affect students.

“Our role as your Student Executive Officer team is not only to listen to your feedback,” the statement continues, “but also to empower you in advocating for the changes you want to see.”

The statement comes after concerns were raised regarding the new society. A petition calling to dissolve the society has received over 13,000 signatures since it started on February 12.

The statement clarifies that the Students’ Union can only restrict the creation of new societies on two grounds: if the society’s activities duplicate another society’s activities and if the society’s activities are unlawful.

“The Students’ Union could not lawfully reject the application of the Pro-Life Society” due to a number of laws including: the 1994 Education Act, the 2010 Equality Act, and the recent 2023 Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Act. These laws are explained in the statement.

The statement does however say that the Students’ Union has “impressed upon the pro-life society […] the importance of conducting themselves in a way that is in line with acceptable standards of behaviour and union laws.”

The statement includes links to support services that the Students’ Union offers and information for making formal complaints. Whilst the Students’ Union cannot disband the society, the complaints service can flag incidents if and when groups are in breach of the members’ code of conduct.

On February 4 and 13, the Students’ Union released two separate statements on the new Freedom of Speech Act, outlining the new responsibilities of the Students’ Union and universities to commit themselves to freedom of speech.

The Students’ Union hosted a Freedom of Speech Consultation on Thursday, February 15 to give students the opportunity to say and hear about how the legislation impacts Students’ Unions.

On February 15, the “Pro-Life society” released a statement, stating that their society “exists to promote the wellbeing, and dignity of every human life, from conception. […] It is also important to point out that we are not an anti-abortion society but a pro-life society.”

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