Fuseworks Media

Spurious ‘Heath and Safety’ claims lead Rotorua Lakes Council to cancel Rainbow Storytime

Rotorua Lakes Council has either bowed to ‘thugs veto’ and canceled the Rainbow Storytime event which was set to occur tomorrow, or simply acted on contrived threats as an excuse to cancel the event. Either way, this sets a dangerous precedent for free expression and the rights of all Kiwis to access public venues, says Jonathan Ayling, Chief Executive of the Free Speech Union.

“After the Council originally said it wasn’t their place to determine ‘who can and cannot have their freedom of expression’ (a decision which the FSU applauded), they backtracked and canceled the event over ‘health and safety concerns’ due to a protest planned outside the event.

“Council venues legally cannot discriminate access to venues based on the views speakers express. Following the Supreme Court ruling in Moncrief-Spittle v Regional Facilities Auckland Limited [2022] NZSC 138, the bar has been set high for when councils can cancel events on these grounds.

“The Free Speech Union has consistently insisted that public venues must not pick and choose which perspectives are allowed to be expressed on the premises. Equally, we must not allow public debate to be impoverished by giving in to bullies.

“Free speech has to go both ways. Defending someone’s right to speak does not mean you agree with their views.

“Whether you want to attend the event, or peacefully protest outside, it is your right to do so. The Council should defend this right. Having failed to do so, it is possible the Council has acted in an illegal manner. We have contacted the Council and will be reviewing the details of this case.” 


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