Manitoba

Anti-abortion Brandon University students sue their union, allege discrimination

A group of Brandon University students who oppose abortion have filed a lawsuit after their club status was withdrawn by the students union.

Group representative says they've been censored and they're tired of being discriminated against

A group of Brandon University students who oppose abortion have filed a lawsuit after their club status was withdrawn by their students union.

A group of anti-abortion students at a Manitoba university has filed a lawsuit after it says its club status was withdrawn by the school's students' union.

The Brandon University Students for Life group says in a news release that it is suing the Brandon University Students' Union.

The suit, filed last week, is asking the courts to reinstate the group as an official club.

The group says its status was revoked last November because its stance made some students feel uncomfortable and intimidated.

It says the students' union also argued that the club was redundant because other campus groups, including a women's group, already address abortion.

Nick Brown, president of the students' union, wouldn't comment on whether the group's status was removed or why.

"BUSU is aware of the situation and taking the necessary steps to move forward," Brown said Tuesday.

Problems started years ago: president

Catherine Dubois, president of Brandon University Students for Life, says the group has had problems with the students' union since it first tried to form four years ago.

"Our student union claims to serve students and support them in their efforts to share their passions and advocate for various causes," she said in the release.

"Our club has been repeatedly censored and denied these opportunities offered to every other student. We are tired and frustrated with being treated in such a discriminatory manner."

Anastasia Pearse, executive director of National Campus Life Network, said there are 40 pro-life groups at Canadian universities and many others are facing free speech problems.

Similar groups face same challenges at other schools 

Anti-abortion groups that have lost club status at Ryerson University, the University of Toronto Mississauga and the University of Ontario Institute of Technology have also filed lawsuits in the past year against their students' unions, she said Tuesday in a phone interview from Langley, B.C.

"We know that the pro-life position is one that can be uncomfortable to talk about," Pearse said. "But it is such an important issue for us to talk about, as so many women on our campuses are affected by abortion.

"We should be able to discuss these issues respectfully and openly without fear of being censored. It's unfortunate that so many student unions resort to the lazy option of censorship instead of relying on open dialogue and debate."

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