UK Student barred from free speech debate for saying ‘women don’t have penises’

Friday, February 15, 2019
By Paul Martin

15 February 2019

A student who was called transphobic after re-tweeting ‘women don’t have penises’ has been excluded from a free speech debate at Bristol university over ‘security concerns’.

Angelos Sofocleous posted the statement on his social media account last August. The tweet led to him being sacked from his role as president of Humanist Students and assistant editor of Durham University’s philosophy society journal.

Sofocleous had hoped to take part in a panel hosted by Bristol University’s Free Speech Society on Wednesday but he claims to have been ‘de-platformed’.

He wrote in the Spectator: ‘I was looking forward to addressing these points at a panel event this week on ‘free speech on campus’ organised by the University of Bristol free speech society. ‘Unfortunately, I’ve now been de-platformed.’

He also tweeted: ‘Nothing could provide a more ironic indication of the current status of social justice orthodoxy in academia than banning a speaker from an event titled “Free speech on campus”.’

The Free Speech Society, which invited him to speak, accused Bristol Student’s union of a ‘disregard for Free Speech’ and said they had used red tape to stop him speaking.

It said: “The justification given is that his presence on campus constitutes a ‘high risk’. The University Security Services informed us that they were not at all consulted by the SU on the matter.”

The student union hit back and said it had not refused Mr Sofocleous as a speaker and it was committed to freedom of speech.

A spokesperson said: “Bristol SU and the University of Bristol have a joint external speakers procedure, which applies to all bookings and events. Bristol SU made an initial assessment of the speaker and recommended that security would be needed to ensure this event could run safely and smoothly.”

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