Israel Folau's gay comments aren't hate speech - Jacinda Ardern

Gay people who don't repent are going to hell, according to rugby player Israel Folau - so is that freedom of speech or hate speech?

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was reluctant to say.

"As I said, I disagree with them but I'm very careful around how I categorise someone's speech," she said.

Folau used the Biblical verse Corinthians 6 as his rationale - it says men who practise homosexuality won't inherit the kingdom of God.

Ms Ardern wouldn't comment on whether or not she believed the aforementioned Bible verse constituted hate speech.

She spoke to Newshub from London, where two years ago Parliament debated whether or not US President Donald Trump should be banned from the UK because of his vitriol about women, Muslims and people with disabilities.

"I'm very cautious of when you escalate someone's language into those kinds of categories," she said of Mr Trump.

"He obviously has some values that I don't agree with."

The UK has multiple laws that prevent hate speech, punishable by prison and fines - including the offence of inciting hatred on the grounds of sexual orientation.

There's no specific hate speech law in New Zealand.

The Human Rights Act covers it, but only on the grounds of colour, race or ethnicity - not sexual orientation or religion.

When asked if there's a need for a specific law to address hate speech, Ms Ardern says she "certainly hasn't seen momentum" for that in New Zealand.

She says one of the issues is weighing up discrimination and inciting violence against the importance of free speech and religion.

"You know the old saying, 'I may not like what you're saying but I'll defend your right to say it'."

This seems to include the freedom to say gay people who don't repent are going to hell.

New Zealand doesn't collect data on hate crimes like the UK does, so we have no real understanding of how bad the problem is and whether legislative change is needed


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