Warning: This article discusses sexual assault and rape.
The Deputy Prime Minister has slammed Israel Adesanya's "flippant" comments about sexual assault.
The inflammatory comments were directed at fellow UFC middleweight Kevin Holland after he criticised Adesanya in an offensive manner last week.
In response, Adesanya posted a video to Instragam story where he threatened to rape his competitor. "'Bro, I"f***n rape you," he said in the now-deleted story.
The comments were widely criticised on Wednesday and now Grant Robertson has weighed in.
Robertson, who is also the Sports and Recreation Minister, told Radio New Zealand on Thursday nobody should be making "jokes or flippant comments" about rape.
"I'm sure Israel understands that, I believe he has deleted the tweet in question. It will be up to the UFC as to what they do," Robertson told RNZ.
"But I would certainly be making clear to him, and to anybody actually, that we have to take rape seriously. It's not an issue that anyone should be making jokes or flippant comments about at all."
On Wednesday, anti-rape campaigners condemned the comments.
"These kind of comments, where rape is used as a threat, create a culture where it is acceptable to make sexualised comments with the potential to cause further harm," Rape Prevention Education executive director Debbi Tohill told Stuff.
"Sportspeople and celebrities can really influence young people. We would like to see this happen in a positive way, not misused and normalising threats of sexual violence."
It's not the first time Adesanya has got in hot water over his social media use.
In January, Adesanya used Twitter to put the squeeze on an outstanding debtor.
"Someone owes me money and isn't wanting to pay," said the now-deleted posts. "I'm gonna put their number on here and imma need y'all to rind [sic] this person at random and demand they pay me ASAP!!
"Alice. Pay me my motherf**ken money!!!"
Later, Adesanya's account posted: "That's enough for now. The message was received."
The target was bombarded by abusive texts, but many of Adesanya's followers called him out for the action.
"He's put someone's number on Twitter to get harassed lol hella cases being caught," says one response.
"Dude, using your platform and fan base like that is honestly f**ked," says another. "Why do you think doxxing is OK?"
Adesanya hasn't officially responded to the controversy, however he alluded to it on Twitter on Wednesday.
"Incoming clickbait NZ media in 3, 2, 1…," he captioned the Tweet which included a GIF of a man eating popcorn.
Adesanya and his management wouldn't comment when contacted by Newshub.
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