Footage emerges of violence during protest over pro-life society at Manchester University

Protest as pro-life society holds its first meeting at Manchester University
Protest as pro-life society holds its first meeting at Manchester University Credit: MEN Media

There were violent scenes close to a protest against a newly-formed pro-life society at the University of Manchester.

Footage appears to show several men fighting while crowds of protesters holding signs nearby boo and heckle them.

Hundreds of protesters gathered outside the Oxford Road campus in Chorlton-on-Medlock to march outside the society's first meeting carrying placards and chanting.

It comes after the society faced huge backlash from some students, who blasted it as 'abhorrent'.

Placards at protest against pro-life society at the University of Manchester Credit: MEN Media

One witness described the fight as a 'scuffle' and added some of those involved appeared to be 'drunk'. They said those involved did not appear to be protesters.Other videos showed police escorting students - believed to be members of the Pro-Life Society - out of a building while protesters chanted 'shame on you'.A petition to dissolve the society has reached more than 18,000 signatures, with supporters calling the organisation 'outrageous' and 'harmful'.

Students have described the society as like 'the beginning of a Margaret Atwood novel' and accused the student union of 'enabling misogynistic hate speech'.

The Pro Life Society opposed abortions and says it is also campaigning other threats to life including assisted suicide, capital punishment and deaths caused by poverty and poor living standards

Students have described feeling 'unsafe' with the creation of the pro-life society Credit: MEN Media

According to the Students' Union, the Pro-Life Society was officially affiliated on January 11 this year in 'accordance with our society registration process'.The Students' Union said it considers two points before accepting a society; whether the activities duplicate another society, and whether the society's activities are lawful.A Students' Union spokesperson said: "From a legal standpoint, it’s not possible to stop a society from affiliating for their legal views that are contrary to the views of other students.

"That means, despite concerns over student safety, the students’ union can’t block a society from forming because of their beliefs."The new freedom of speech legislation was passed in 2023 and will be fully implemented by September of this year.

We know many aspects of this area of law are potentially contradictory with other legislation, such as equalities legislation, and at the very least it creates lots of tensions which are untested in law.

The students’ union is not best placed to carry out a legal challenge in this area."Prior to the new legislation passing the SU (with four others) engaged in months of campaigning, research and lobbying of MPs and Lords to highlight the issues the laws would pose. "Many of you have told us the existence of a society that has or is creating a community around pro-life views makes you feel unsafe."We've impressed upon the pro-life society the importance of conducting themselves in a way that is in line with acceptable standards of behaviour, the union’s safe space policy and the societies bye-law, and they have complied."The existence of a group on campus that makes you feel concerned about the culture on campus, what the environment could become, is not enough of a legal basis for the SU to ask the society to disband.

"However, if the actions of any society amounted to hate speech, unwanted attention, harassment and caused harm as a result, we would challenge that in line with the process and procedures we have."