UK gov plan to mandate free speech on university campuses criticized for going too far

Plan to promote free speech and academic freedom has critics worried it could allow extremists and Holocaust deniers to sue universities.

Dan Verbin, Canada ,

UK university (illustrative)
UK university (illustrative)
iStock

Nearly one out of every two people in the UK are against a proposed new law by the government that would potentially enable Holocaust deniers and other people with extreme views to take universities who refuse to let them speak on campus to court, a new poll by Hope not Hate revealed.

According to the UK Jewish News, the new proposal is being slammed by its critics, who say that the series of regulations on speech could make it legally permissible for anti-Semites and those with racist views to seek compensation for being banned by universities.

Hope not Hate, an anti-racism organization, conducted the survey and found that 46 percent of the public who were Conservative supporters were also against the series of government measures.

The proposal would allow visiting speakers, academics or students to take universities to court if they were blocked from speaking due to their political ideology.

The Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill was put forward in the British parliament in May.

If the legislation passes, universities and colleges would be legally mandated to promote freedom off speech and academic freedom.

The Office for Students, which regulates post-secondary education in England, would be tasked with fining higher education institutions that did not follow through on the regulations.

As well, academics, visiting speakers and students would be able to ask for compensation through the legal system if they suffered a loss of income through a challenge to their free speech.

Over 1,500 respondents across the country were queried in the study.

In July, the Labour Party denounced the bill during its second reading, alleging that it could provide a venue for “legal protection and financial [compensation]” for individuals promoting “harmful and dangerous speech” on campuses, including Holocaust denial.

However, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson stressed in response that the bill “will not and never will create a platform for Holocaust deniers.”

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)



top