MPs David Seymour and Louisa Wall clash over Israel Folau case during hate speech debate

Source: 1News

ACT leader David Seymour and Labour MP Louisa Wall have clashed on TVNZ1's Q+A over the Israel Folau case.

Mr Seymour called the Australian rugby player's anti-gay Instagram post "so ridiculous" and Ms Wall hit back that it's not ridiculous if you're a young gay person coming out.

The exchange came during a debate between the two MPs on whether new hate speech laws are needed in New Zealand following a review of the current laws that's being fast tracked by Justice Minister Andrew Little following the Christchurch mosque attacks.

Mr Seymour said he was not convinced such laws will work and cited the example of the UK where for a while insulting somebody was criminalised.

"You've had a series of really quite absurd cases where people have been spoken to by the police for things they said on Twitter. And yet as they've measured it, the amount of hateful rhetoric in the UK has increased there too," he said. 

"So I'm just not convinced that these laws will work, and they can actually create cynicism."

Mr Seymour said: "Can I give you the example of Israel Folau. Now what the guy recently put on Instagram is that if you're gay, when you die you will go to a fiery pit in the ground. I mean it's so ridiculous. He's been ridiculed..."

Ms Wall interrupted saying, "It's not ridiculous if you're a young gay person, David, who's coming out. And he has done this three times. Last year..."

Mr Seymour asked if they could take it in turns.

"Last year when he said it there was nationwide and also Australian wide condemnation," Ms Wall continued.

Mr Seymour said: "Can we just finish the thought though, Jack, 'cause I don't talk over Louisa."

He continued: "Look, you know if he had had the Australian police show up at his door and say, 'we're going to arrest you, we're going to discipline you' or whatever, I think he would have actually instead of being ridiculed around the world as he was, quite rightly, I think he actually could have become a martyr.

"And that's what's happened to some extent in the UK. You can actually end up creating more resentment with these kinds of laws."

Ms Wall said she believed tighter hate speech laws would have prevented the Christchurch attack, saying "we would have been able to call them out".

"We need tighter laws because I believe hate does exist. And hate breeds racism. It also breeds sexism, misogyny, homophobia," she said.

Q+A is on TVNZ1 on Mondays at 9.30pm, and the episode is then available on TVNZ OnDemand and as a podcast in all the usual places.