Philosopher Peter Singer's speaking slot at SkyCity in June has been cancelled by the company because of his controversial views about killing disabled babies.

Professor Singer has been variously been recognised from the most dangerous person in the world to Australian Humanist of the Year.

He has advocated allowing parents to euthanise severely disabled infants, but is also known for helping spur the animal rights movement and championing charity.

Singer was booked into SkyCity for "An Evening with Peter Singer" on June 14, as part of a speaking tour raising money for his charity, but the venue has now pulled the plug, fearing "reputational damage".

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"Whilst SkyCity supports the right of free speech, some of the themes promoted by this speaker do not reflect our values of diversity and inclusivity," SkyCity said in a statement.

Singer, however, said the cancellation an attack on free speech and "extraordinary" because it appeared to be based solely on one newspaper article.

"I have been welcomed as a speaker in New Zealand on many occasions and spent an enjoyable month as an Erskine Fellow at the University of Canterbury more than 20 years ago," he said.

"If New Zealand has become less tolerant of controversial views since then, that's a matter for deep regret."

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Alt-right personality Lauren Southern didn't get to speak in 2018 when Auckland Council refused to let her use its venues. Photo / Supplied
Alt-right personality Lauren Southern didn't get to speak in 2018 when Auckland Council refused to let her use its venues. Photo / Supplied

Singer said SkyCity was the first venue to cancel a speaking booking on him in his 50-year career.

He currently serves as a Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University and Laureate Professor at the University of Melbourne. His 1975 book Animal Liberation has been credited by some as triggering the modern animal rights movement.

He was also an early campaigner, in the 1960s, for legal abortion, and has been a proponent of voluntary assisted dying.

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His theories call for ways to reduce suffering and maximise happiness for humans and animals, and include his famous analogy about whether it was worth the cost of muddying your clothes to jump into water and save a drowning child.

His 2009 book The Life You Can Save helped create a movement aimed at getting people to give more of their personal wealth to the charities that most effectively tackle poverty.

Yet, on the flip side, his views on disabled children have caused an uproar around the world.

He has been labelled "Professor Death" by the Wall Street Journal, called a Nazi by protesters in Germany and attracted the ire of many in the disabled community.

Australian-born philosopher Peter Singer's team are looking for a new venue for his June speaking tour after SkyCity cancelled his event. Photo / File
Australian-born philosopher Peter Singer's team are looking for a new venue for his June speaking tour after SkyCity cancelled his event. Photo / File

"Killing a defective infant is not morally equivalent to killing a person. Sometimes it is not wrong at all," he wrote bluntly in a 1979 edition of his book Practical Ethics.

Singer argued that parents sometimes already make the decision to allow babies with serious disabilities to die by not giving life-supporting medical treatment.

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He thought that should be extended to give parents the opportunity to end the lives of babies with serious disabilities swiftly and humanely.

But Dr Hunhana Hickey, who has used a wheelchair since 1996 and was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2010, told Newshub these views hurt the disabled community.

"He's one of a kind when it comes to his expertise in animal rights, however, he's not an expert in the area of disability," Dr Hickey told the media outlet.

"His views against disabled people have been picked up by the abled community over the years and a lot of his views have been used against us."

However, Dr Hickey said while she would vigorously debate and work to counter Singer's ideas, he had the right to express them.

Event organiser and owner of Think Inc, Suzi Jamil, has brought Dr Jane Goodall, Neil deGrasse Tyson, and Jonathan Haidt to New Zealand for previous tours and blasted SkyCity's decision.

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"This incident sets a dangerous precedent for all forms of intellectual discourse and is an affront to academic freedom," she said.

She said her team were working to find another venue for Singer to give his talk at.

In late 2018, two alt-right Canadian speakers, Stefan Molyneux and Lauren Southern, cancelled their speaking tours after Auckland Mayor Phil Goff blocked them from performing at council venues.

They found an alternative private venue, The Powerstation, but their booking there was later cancelled by the venue.