Tova O'Brien: Bigotry can go to hell

OPINION: There is no room in my world for people who think gay people are going to hell. 

I respect the opinions of others, I respect the religion of others, I respect freedom of speech. I do not respect ignorant, bigoted views that aren't grounded in any rational argument or fact. 

That includes racism, sexism, religious persecution and discrimination based on sexual orientation or identity. 

On her first official trip to Europe, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern attended a town hall-style event discussing the merits of diversity and equality. It was inspiring for the 80 or so young people who were there - she used personal anecdotes to hammer home her strong views against discrimination.

Which is why I'm surprised at her response to Israel Folau's comments that gay people who do not repent will go to hell.

She didn't condemn it, she didn't say how utterly stupid, wrong or cruel his comments were. She said "that conversation has been cased on someone's religious background".

She wouldn't say if using religion as an excuse makes it okay. 

She said she doesn't agree with Folau, but when asked if it was hate speech she replied: "I'm very careful about how I categorise someone's speech."

Let me help - it's speech that expresses hatred of a group. Condemning a group of people to hell is hateful. 

At the Topp Twins concert in London last night, celebrating their 60th birthday, Jacinda Ardern talked about how she grew up with the Topp Twins. 

"Here I was in the small town of Morrinsville, knowing that these amazing performers and activists and campaigners and comedians came from my backyard - and they are an amazing reflection of who we are"

I grew up with the Topp Twins too. I remember seeing them at the Gay & Lesbian Fair in Newtown - the same year I sold some Barbie dolls on a stall for a neat profit - and I agree, they are an amazing reflection of who we are. 

And I do not believe we're a nation of people which condemn others to hell because of how we identify or who we love. 

Tova O'Brien is Newshub's political editor.

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