Prof Singer – known as author of Animal Liberation and for campaigning for legal abortion and euthanasia – described SkyCity’s move as “extraordinary”.
He claims the decision was made after an article published by Kiwi outlet Newshub aired community opposition to his support for the parental right to euthanise severely disabled infants.
“It’s extraordinary that SkyCity should cancel my speaking engagement on the basis of a newspaper article without contacting either me, or the organiser of my speaking tour, to check the facts on which it appears to be basing the cancellation,” he said in a statement on Wednesday.
The academic says he’s been previously welcomed in New Zealand as a speaker.
“If New Zealand has become less tolerant of controversial views since then, that’s a matter for deep regret,” he said.
Prof Singer was once described by pro-life activists as “the most dangerous man on the planet” over his views.
He was in 2012 recognised as a Companion of the Order of Australia for his service to philosophy and bioethics and as a leader in debates on global poverty and animal welfare.
The Princeton University professor is also visiting Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane as part of his 2020 tour, where he will talk about applying ethics to everyday life.
Organisers of the tour, Think Inc, says SkyCity’s decision to cancel the event sets a dangerous precedent for intellectual discourse.
“We will do everything in our capacity to find a new venue to host this event and it will run,” director Suzi Jamil said in a statement on Wednesday.
“We stand for free speech and we stand behind Peter Singer and his ability to share his thoughts, for people to question him and for us to use this to progress society.”