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Free Speech Coalition takes Auckland Council to court over decision to ban right-wing Canadian speakers from Council-owed venues

The Free Speech Coalition has filed court action of Auckland Council's decision to ban two right-wing Canadian speakers from Council-owned venues.

Mr Bridges said while he does "disagree strongly" with the views of Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux, "freedom of speech matters". Source: Breakfast

The pro-free speech group says Auckland Council and Mayor Phil Goff acted in breach of the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act.

The coalition was formed days after Mr Goff announced Council would not allow Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux to speak at the Bruce Mason Centre or any other Council-owned venue.

It comes after Canadian activists Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux were not allowed to use a Auckland Council venue. Source: 1 NEWS

Both Southern and Molyneux are authors and far-right activists known for polarising views on feminism, Islam, race, immigration, refugee issues and white pride.

The Coalition say they wrote to the Mayor Phil Goff suggesting he avoid the cost of litigation by reopening discussions with the promoters of the event.

They say Auckland Council declined the opportunity.

“The Coalition arbitrary and uninformed decision making process suggests bias, prejudgement, and indifference to the fundamental freedoms outlined in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act,” Coalition member Melissa Derby said.

Over 1000 people donated to the The Free Speech Coalition, raising $90,000. 

"The Council's arbitrary and uninformed decision making process suggests bias, prejudgment, and indifference to the fundamental freedoms outlined in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act," Derby said.

Lauren Southern and Stefan Molyneux were prevented from speaking at Council-owned venues. Source: 1 NEWS

"It's regrettable to see the Mayor digging his heels in when we have given him every opportunity to reconsider and avoid litigation costs."

Fellow member David Cumin also weighed in: "This action is to ensure that politicians and officials aren't allowed to discriminate against views they dislike when it comes to ratepayer-funded venues, regardless of how broadly 'unacceptable' the views might be."

Auckland Mayor Mr Goff has defended his actions, telling TVNZ’s Q+A his comments had followed the advice of the council agency that had already cancelled the pair's booking at the Bruce Mason Centre next month.

"When Regional Facilities Auckland came to me and said, 'We've got this problem, these people want to use our facilities,' they said they were concerned the speech that these two individuals were engaged in was deliberately provocative to some of our ethnic communities and our faith communities."

The Council said their legal team is assessing the claims made and will consider the response on behalf of the Council group.