The University of Western Australia (UWA) has defended its decision to host a talk by Quentin Van Meter, an American paediatrician who believes trans people are mentally ill.

Van Meter, who is the president of the American College of Paediatricians (ACP), has regularly denied proven science around trans people and called them delusional, according to the ABC.

His upcoming talk at UWA is slated for Friday, and will be hosted by the conservative Australian Family Association (AFA).

A petition that was created in opposition to the event has already amassed more than 6,500 signatures, calling on the university’s Vice-Chancellor Dawn Freshwater to cancel Van Meter’s talk.

However, in an email to staff and students, Freshwater said that while Van Meter’s views around trans people were at odds with UWA’s values, the university would not deny him use of the venue.

“The university considers that cancellation of the AFA event would create an undesirable precedent for the exclusion of objectionable views from the campus,” she said.

“There is an ongoing task to be undertaken within the university about the development of workable principles which strike a balance between the values of respect for human dignity on the one hand and freedom of opinion and expression on the other.”

The ACP is currently listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Centre in the US due to its anti-LGBTI views.

The creator of the petition, a student doctor at the university, said he was “disgusted” to see UWA’s plans to host Van Meter.

“UWA, do not host Quentin Van Meter on our campus,” he wrote on the petition.

“Do not do so if you have any moral backbone, if you care about the LGBTI staff and students at this university, or if you have ever flown the Pride flag with any conviction whatsoever.”

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