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Euthanasia Meeting Cancelled By NZ Church

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

21 July -- With 3 days to go to go before Australian Voluntary Euthanasia activist, Dr Philip Nitschke, was due to hold a public meeting & workshop at St Johns in the City in Wellington, Senior Minister of the Church - Reverend Allister Lane - has cancelled Exit International's long-standing booking.

In an email to Exit at 4.30pm on Monday 20 July (the meeting was scheduled to be held at 9am Friday 24 July), Reverend Lane states "At the time the booking was requested we were unaware of the nature of the event, which precludes us from offering our facilities".

While the Reverend failed to provide details of the reason for the cancellation, he acknowledged that the Church had experienced no problems when Dr Nitschke leased the same venue for his Wellington public meeting & workshop in 2008.

Reverend Lane's decision to withdraw the Church meeting room at the last minute is not the first time that Dr Nitschke has had to contend with attempts to close his meetings. In May 2009, two venues in Far North Queensland cancelled bookings at the last minute.

On those occasions, James Cook University and the University of Central Queensland stepped in, offering Exit International their own premises for the meetings, arguing that free speech should be upheld, especially where important social issues such as end of life choices were concerned.

Speaking from Sydney before flying to Auckland tomorrow, Dr Nitschke said he was "very disappointed" with Reverend Lane's decision.

"It is one thing to disagree with our message, it is another thing entirely to attempt to silence the debate by withdrawing meeting venues."

"I am very surprised at St Johns' decision to cancel our booking at the last minute given the excellent relationships we enjoy with Churches in the United Kingdom.

During his recent UK tour in May, Dr Nitschke held meetings on church premises in Brighton on England's south coast and in Glasgow.

"Our relationships with churches are generally very positive. I suspect Reverend Lane has been pressured into this change of heart. I strongly believe that censorship of this nature amounts to a rather disingenuous way to engage in the end of life choices debate."

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