A university in Mexico has initiated proceedings against a recent psychology graduate after a group of professors expressed concerns over his graduation speech defending the family and the sanctity of life, which might cost him his license to practice.
The Autonomous University of Baja California received complaints against the student, Christian Cortez Pérez, and has started formal proceedings to ban him from practicing psychology, human rights group ADF Internationalsaid Friday.
As the top of his class at the university’s School of Medicine and Psychology, Pérez earned the right to deliver the commencement address at his graduation ceremony on June 27 where he voiced his deeply held moral convictions regarding the state of the world today, and the importance of the family and the sanctity of life among other issues.
Some students and faculty protested vocally and walked out, but he continued and delivered his graduation address in full.
The professors then issued a “manifesto,” calling his address “hate speech.” They demanded that his academic degree and professional license be withheld, his merit award withdrawn and psychology associations across Mexico be alerted regarding his actions.
“I exercised my fundamental right to free speech to address my classmates about what I believe are the most pressing issues of our time,” Pérez was quoted as saying in response to the university’s action. “Now, I stand to lose my entire professional career because I expressed views with which some students and faculty disagree.”
In response to the proceedings against him, Pérez has submitted a counterclaim to protect his rightful interests, said ADF International, which is supporting him, adding that a judgment from the university is expected later this month.
In his commencement speech, Pérez said, “Today we are deep into a real anthropological struggle to redefine the human being, the human person, man, through the implementation of ideologies and fashions of thought that always end up undermining dignity and freedom.”
He then quoted English writer and lay theologian G.K. Chesterton: “People do not know what they are doing; because they do not know what they are undoing.” Pérez added that “to attack life and the family is to self-destruct, it is an attack on civilization itself.” He then urged his peers to live in solidarity with one another, saying, “You have to love; no one seeks the good of the other if he does not love him.”
Kristina Hjelkrem, ADF International’s legal counsel for Latin America, said Pérez “faces irreparable reputational damage and a ban on his professional practice, threatening all that he has worked for in his career” just because he exercised his basic human rights and expressed views shared by many.
“If the campaign to punish Christian is successful, it shows that anyone who dares to speak in public in Mexico is in danger,” Hjelkrem added. “This is a clear violation of international human rights law, reminiscent of dictatorships, not democracies.”
Pérez said he is “committed to obtaining justice not just for myself, but for all Mexicans interested in preserving the right to freely express themselves.”
ADF International commented that students and professors all over the world are being subjected to “censorship campaigns, often accompanied by legal proceedings, which threaten severe harm to both their reputations and careers.”