Controversial talk axed

THE Voice was barely in letterboxes when UWA cancelled last Friday night’s talk by controversial US doctor Quentin Van Meter.

UWA’s decision to host the talk sparked an outcry from UWA students who had planned to protest, and more than 9000 people signed the online petition “UWA, don’t host anti-LGBT hate on campus!”

But the university announced it had pulled the plug on the talk on Friday morning, with just hours to spare.

“We have been advised the risk surrounding the event has been elevated to a higher level, which mandates a more robust event management plan.”

The uni’s statement said organisers could not provide that management plan, so the event was cancelled under its booking policy.

Archaic

“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,” the statement read.

Before the cancellation the Australian Medical Association WA’s president Omar Khorshid said the statements put out by Dr Van Meter’s group “in regards to transgender topics are archaic, outdated and completely contradict most reputable research in this area.”

“We do not want to shut down discourse on these topics, and universities are the best placed institutions to discuss conflicting ideas.

“However, these messages are anti-health, devoid of any robust evidence and could ostracise an already vulnerable group of people.

“The AMA (WA) urges any concerned students to make their voices heard and rebut the assertions put forward by this fringe group using peer reviewed studies that are available.”

Instead, those students concerned about the talk neither had the satisfaction of having their uni come out in support of them, nor the chance to rebut Dr Van Meter.

Protestors were disappointed it was cancelled based on a technicality, instead of its content.

Lead petitioner Thomas Drake-Brockman called it the “wrong response” on the part of the uni.

A student doctor, Drake-Brockman tried to deliver the printed petition to the vice chancellor Dawn Freshwater but was stopped by security from entering the VC’s office, and had to hand it over to the UWA executive while standing outside.

by DAVID BELL

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