Maurice Williamson coming to terms with being a gay icon in Japan

Chris Chang
Source: 1News

Former National MP Maurice Williamson is still coming to terms with his rising popularity as a gay icon in Japan.

Mr Williamson, who delivered a memorable speech in favour of same-sex marriage four years ago, has unwittingly shot to prominence in the Asian country after the speech was shared on social media.

Speaking to 1 NEWS from Portland, Oregon, Mr Williamson said his Twitter account has been "blowing up".

"I guess it's relevant to the time of where a country is at. We passed gay marriage four years ago, we got on with life, and as I predicted in my speech the world would just carry on and nothing would come crashing down around our ears as the naysayers had us believe," he said.

"I guess Japan's at that point now. They're currently debating the issue and considering it right now, so every time I look at my Twitter account there's just more and more people."

The speech footage resurfaced after comments made by Wataru Takeshita, the General Council Chairman of Japan's Liberal Democratic Party.

He suggested that gay partners of state guests shouldn't be allowed to dine with the Empress or Emperor of Japan, but he later apologised for the statement.

Mr Williamson hopes the speech continues to translate for other cultures and languages.

"The speech was terribly simple in its substance. It had a bit of humour in it, but it's substance was basically saying, 'look, don't worry about this. It's not going to affect your lives in any way. If you're not gay and not planning on getting married let's just not worry about it."

"The thing I love to tell anyone that'll listen about New Zealand is that we're an incredibly tolerant society -we basically passed gay marriage and then went off and had dinner. Whereas in other countries they had riots in the streets and water cannons and tear gas."

He added that the speech - which referred to a "big gay rainbow" over his electorate - was made "off the cuff".

"It was not anything I'd put any work into. I've put hours of work into other speeches that have never had any coverage. That, for some reason, went viral around the world and I guess the best lesson to me was don't put too much work into preparing speeches!"