Charles Waterstreet has defended an upcoming appearance on the ABC's Q&A program, arguing he has just as much of a right to discuss the #MeToo movement as anyone else.
The Sydney barrister, who denies allegations he sexually harassed a 21-year-old law student last year, said he hoped to use his upcoming appearance to debate the merits of the #MeToo movement.
"I have formally accepted the invitation and I look forward to a lively debate," he told Fairfax Media. "I note reference to my name linked with Harvey Weinstein in some minor media [outlets]. The only thing I have in common with Harvey Weinstein is that we've made films.
"Why should I be assumed to be a perpetrator? I look forward to speaking on my own behalf."
The ABC has confirmed Waterstreet received an invitation to take part in Q&A's #MeToo special. However, a spokeswoman remained tight-lipped about whether or not the barrister would actually make an appearance on the night.
The full panel, which is expected to also feature Melbourne lawyer Josh Bornstein and actor Rachel Griffiths, hasn't been locked in. The episode - hosted by the ABC's Virginia Trioli - is due to air on Thursday, February 15.
"The #MeToo movement has raised highly sensitive and strongly emotive issues - and [it is] an important conversation to have," the spokeswoman said. "In its special February 15 episode, Q&A will bring together a panel to discuss these issues. As always, the panel will represent a variety of perspectives and experiences, exposing Australian citizens to a range of views and ideas they may oppose, as well as those they support."
The #MeToo movement gained momentum on social media in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein allegations, resulting in women all over the world sharing their experiences of assault and harassment.
Last year, New Matilda ran a story claiming Waterstreet acted inappropriately towards Sydney University student Tina Huang in a job interview and on her first day of work. Waterstreet has denied any wrongdoing, arguing graphic videos and pictures in his office are part of a court case and that his humour sometimes "falls on deaf ears".
Anti-sexual assault advocate Nina Funnell said Waterstreet should never have been invited onto Q&A.
"Women do not need men to explain sexual harassment to us," she wrote on Twitter. "Men should sit in the audience and listen as women explain it."
Former Greens leader Christine Milne, meanwhile, accused Q&A producers of using a "clickbait formula" to try and boost ratings and urged people to boycott the episode.
The ABC has announced that alleged sexual harasser Charles Waterstreet will be on the Q&A #MeToo special. They invited me 2 sit in the audience. Women do not need men to explain sexual harassment to us. Men should sit in audience & listen as women explain it. Get me on the Panel!??? Nina Funnell (@ninafunnell)
@QandA is now a clickbait formula. Inviting Charles Waterstreet #MeToo is like inviting Malcolm Roberts with Brian Cox Don't watch. #auspol??? Christine Milne (@ChristineMilne)
#qanda are giving a voice to Charles Waterstreet to increase attention and attract viewers.
The obvious answer is to boycott. Make it the lowest rating show for the year.??? Gemma Cafarella (@gemmacaf)
Despite fierce opposition to Waterstreet's appearance, Fairfax Media understands there are no plans to remove the Sydney barrister from the Q&A lineup.