Peter Abetz criticises UWA’s decision to cancel Dr Quentin Van Meter talk

Former Liberal MP Peter Abetz has criticised the University of Western Australia’s decision to withdraw support for a talk hosting by the Australian Family Association because of safety concerns.

Controversial US doctor Quentin Van Meter was scheduled to give a talk at the University this evening, but the University has pulled the event after the organisers failed to submit a safety plan. A large number of protesters were expected to attend the event after

Since losing his seat at the state election Abetz has taken up the role of WA State Director of the Australian Christian Lobby, he also headed the Western Australian branch of the Coalition for Marriage and is a City of Gosnells’ Councillor.

Abetz said the UWA was denying Dr Van Meter his right to free speech and was pandering to people who were offended.

“It’s a sad fact that we now live in a world where universities are denying free speech and opinion.” Abetz said.

“Universities were a place of robust debate and open discussion, now they just pander to offended people who cannot engage with those who hold conflicting ideas.”

Abetz defended Dr Van Meter describing him as an international expert on “transgenderism”.

“Dr Van Meter is an international expert on transgenderism who should be allowed the freedom to speak just like anyone else,” Abetz said.

The Australian Christian Lobby said it urged UWA to reinstate the event and “uphold the inherent freedoms of speech and opinion.”

The University had been expecting a large number of protesters to attend the campus after a petition opposing the conservative lobbyist appearance attracted thousands of signatures. The petition at launched by UWA medical student Thomas Drake-Brockman has attracted almost 9,000 signatures.

Dr Van Meter is the President of the American College of Pediatricians, a small lobby group with a long history of opposing LGBTIQ+ communities around the globe. The respected Southern Poverty Law Centre have designated them as a hate group.

The group has around 500 members, as opposed to the much larger American Academy of Pediatrics which has over 64,000 members. The splinter group formed in 2002 when some members disagreed with the Academy’s policy position which supported gay people being allowed to adopt children.

The group push for conservative policies in the political realm, arguing against gay adoption, same-sex marriage, same-sex sex education and transgender rights. The organisation is also opposed to abortion and the HPV vaccine, and argues that abstinence should be promoted over other safe-sex strategies.

Dr Van Meter’s tour of Australia, which is hosted by the Australian Family Association. The presentation he was scheduled to give at the University of Western Australia it titled The Transgender Movement: Its origins and how social theory is trumping science. He argues that transgender people should be counselled to live in their lives as their birth gender saying they are delusional people with a mental illness.

In announcing the cancellation of the scheduled talk the University of Western Australia’s Vice-Chancellor Dawn Freshwater said the university continues to honour principles of freedom of expression.

“The University holds firm on the principles of freedom of expression and maintains its position that it does not wish to set a precedent for the exclusion of objectionable views from the campus,” Prof Freshwater wrote in an email to staff and students.

“However in this case the event hirers could not meet their obligations of the venue hire contract, providing no confidence that UWA could ensure safety on campus.”

“The University acknowledges the deeply held views of many people in the community that this event has raised and the broader issue of the role of universities in providing a place for uncensored and robust discussion and debate on many issues in society today.”

“We welcome these discussions and in the coming weeks the University will be providing opportunities to open up deep debate and dialogue through Academic Board and other forums.”

Graeme Watson, Leigh Andrew Hill 

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