BRITISH COLUMBIA

UVic Sued: Pro-Life Group Claims Harassment On Campus

09/26/2013 06:18 EDT | Updated 10/02/2013 08:27 EDT

The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) has filed a constitutional lawsuit against the University of Victoria and the UVic Students' Society.

Along with Cam Cote, a member of the University's pro-life club Youth Protecting Youth (YPY), the BCCLA's petition focuses on UVic's attempts to cancel a 2012 event called "Choice Chain," as well as alleged threats to crack down on those who participate in future events of the same nature.

In a press release issued Wednesday, the BCCLA claims that the Students' Society has "a long history of antagonism to YPY," and takes issue with the fact that the Society "characterized pro-life advocacy as 'harassment.'"

While the BCCLA views access to safe abortions as a civil right, the organization condemns UVic for trying to shut down challenging arguments of pro-life. It also points out that UVic's Catholic Student Association is receiving similar treatment for outlining their church's beliefs surrounding love, sex, and marriage on the University's Clubs Day.

“Are those of us who are pro-choice so frightened of civil, peaceful speech against our conviction, that we must take refuge in quasi-legal antics to harass, frighten, and ultimately punish those who dare to challenge them?” said the BCCLA's Dr. John Dixon in the release.

This is not the first time YPY has filed a suit against UVic's Students' Society. In 2010, the group settled out of court after two years of "discrimination and censorship, during which YPY was repeatedly denied funding that other clubs received" and were refused recognition as a UVic club.

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms (JCCF) recently released its 2013 report (the Campus Freedom Index) regarding free speech on Canadian university campuses , and concluded that the University of Ottawa and Carleton University are the country's worst universities for free speech. The Index cites YPY's current fight as UVic going back on "its previous track record of standing up for free expression on campus."

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