In countries where laws are changed to cater to the politically correct agenda of the day, basic freedoms are trampled. In the UK, the legalisation of same-sex marriage is having direct effects on the freedom of speech of its citizens.
According to a survey conducted by the online magazine Spiked, freedom of speech has been severely limited on campuses across the UK. The Free Speech University Rankings project surveyed 115 universities across the UK, using a “traffic-light” system where universities were ranked based on their history of censorship.
The worst offenders, categorised as “universities that have banned and actively censored ideas on campus”, included Oxford, Cardiff, Edinburgh and Newcastle. As reported in The Independent, the most common form of censorship is to ban certain speakers and academics from campuses. But the censorship goes further:
Some 21 universities have banned speakers, 20 have banned newspapers, 17 have banned particular adverts, 16 have suspended student societies and nine have banned offensive fancy dress.
According to FSUR coordinator, Tom Slater, the results of the survey point to actions taken by university leadership rather than student unions.
“Universities are systematically stifling free speech on campus, while students’ unions take all the flak. We’ve always maintained that campus censorship is about more than the so-called ‘snowflake generation’ throwing its weight around, and this year’s findings reflect that.
“Students’ unions have been pilloried for censoring ‘transphobic’ speech, and enforcing transgender pronouns. But our research shows that the vast majority of policies in this area stem from universities themselves.
“While students’ unions are significantly more censorious – and deserve all the criticism they get – universities often share and affirm their illiberal, patronising outlook.”
Veteran LGBTI activist Peter Tatchell, a vocal advocate for free speech, expressed concerns at the extent of censorship in universities:
“Universities used to be bastions of free speech and open debate. As this report shows, they are increasingly hedging free speech with all kinds of qualifications, making it no longer free.
“These include having to give lengthy advance notice of external speakers and having to invite an opposition speaker for any contentious issue.
“While banning Islamist and far right speakers who endorse violence against women and minorities is justified, many of the current restrictions are not.”