CALGARY, AB Feb. 3, 2009 – The Catholic Civil Rights League today commented on news that some members of Campus Pro-life (CPL) Club at the University of Calgary have been charged with trespassing by the university.
The charges stem from the club’s Genocide Awareness Project in November, which featured posters of fetuses and compared abortion to the Holocaust, Ku Klux Klan crimes and the genocide in Rwanda. Although the exhibit had been shown at the university in the past, prior to the November exhibit the school asked them to turn the posters inward, citing safety concerns. The club did not comply and the protest went ahead as planned, even though they had been warned of possible sanctions including fines, suspension or even expulsion.
“The principle of free speech is more important than the fact that some people are going to find the posters disturbing,” said League Executive Director Joanne McGarry. “Not everyone is in favour of this kind of imagery, and that includes people who are pro-life. However, universities are publicly-funded institutions and should not be in effect discriminating against one side of a controversial question.”
According to a statement from CPL, the university has not taken action against other students or groups using shocking photographs to communicate their message. “At the same time that GAP was displayed in November, another display showed disturbing photographs of the atrocities committed by the Chinese government against the supporters of Falun Gong. The university has extended generous tolerance towards campus pro-choice groups, even when engaged in the physical blocking of the pro-life display,” CPL said.
A number of student pro-life clubs, including those at York and Carleton in Ontario and Memorial in Newfoundland, have had problems gaining or retaining accreditation in recent years. Those problems relate to a “pro-choice” resolution passed by the Canadian Federation of Students, and how individual student councils choose to apply it. The charges at Calgary, however, are coming from the school’s administration. The League is particularly concerned that the attempt to curb free expression is coming from such a senior level.
Catholic Civil Rights League (www.ccrl.ca) assists in creating conditions within which Catholic teachings can be better understood, cooperates with other organizations in defending civil rights in Canada, and opposes defamation and discrimination against Catholics on the basis of their beliefs. CCRL was founded in 1985 as an independent lay organization and has chapters across Canada. The Catholic Civil Rights League is a Canadian non-profit organization entirely supported by the generosity of its members.
For further information: Joanne McGarry, Executive Director, 416-466-8244; firstname.lastname@example.org