Marama Davidson refuses to apologise publicly over 'white cis men' comment

Marama Davidson is refusing to apologise publicly for saying it's "white cis men who cause violence in the world".

Appearing before journalists and in Parliament on Tuesday, the Greens co-leader and Minister for the Prevention of Family and Sexual Violence repeatedly said she felt it appropriate to clarify her comments, but she didn't apologise.

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins has said she apologised to him privately, but National's Christopher Luxon wants a public apology "to the people that she caused offence to". 

Davidson on Saturday was approached by an individual from the far-right conspiracy theorist website Counterspin for her opinion on behaviour at the Posie Parker protest. 

"Trans people are tired of being oppressed and discriminated," Davidson said. "I am a prevention violence minister [sic]. I know who causes violence in the world, it is white cis men. That is white cis men who cause violence in the world."

Cis, which is short for cis-gender, refers to someone who is the same gender now as what was assigned to that person when they were born.

After uproar from political parties, Davidson said in a statement she was "not as clear in my comments" as she should have been as she had just been struck by a motorcycle and was "still in shock". 

Davidson said she should have been clear that "violence happens in every community". 

"My intention was to affirm that trans people are deserving of support and to keep the focus on the fact that men are the main perpetrators of violence." 

Greens co-leader Marama Davidson.
Greens co-leader Marama Davidson. Photo credit: Newshub.

On Tuesday afternoon, she fronted media for the first time since her comments.

"I have clarified what I intended to say and particularly affirm and acknowledge victims and survivors who may not have seen themselves in my comments and wanted to make sure I affirm their experiences," Davidson said.

Asked if she would apologise to people who felt offended, as the National Party has called for, Davidson repeated she had "made things clearer in my public statement".

She said it was important to her to make the clarification.

"I acknowledge that I should have been clearer in my words. I normally take incredible care. I understand the importance of my language in my work," Davidson said. 

"This is how much focus I normally take in the language that I use, which is why I have clarified it in my public statement."

Davidson explained Saturday morning at the protest had been "charged" but there had also been "beauty and love and solidarity for trans people who are far too often discriminated, oppressed and marginalised". 

She said some people have suggested trans people are "the biggest threat to women", which she said is "simply not true". 

"When the far right media came to me, I was still in that charged environment as well, which is why I should have taken more care with the words that I used."

The Prime Minister on Tuesday morning said he had spoken to Davidson about her comments and that she "regrets the situation and how it unfolded".

"She apologised for the comments that she's made. She'd already issued a correcting statement on that yesterday."

Later in Parliament, Davidson said the Prime Minister hadn't asked her to apologise publicly.

ACT's Karen Chhour asked Davidson whether she would apologise to the victims of abuse for "making a mockery of such a serious issue".

Davidson replied: "What I have done is clarified what I intended to say directly in a public statement and make it really clear that I was wanting to push back hard on the untruth and harm about trans people being the biggest threat to women."

"This is simply not true and that my intention was to highlight the structures of power that are behind the drivers of violence and I will continue to make that point."

Chhour asked why she could apologise to the Prime Minister, but not victims. 

"What I have said to the Prime Minister is that I clarified that those are not the words that I normally use."

Louise Upston, National's social development spokesperson, also asked why Davidson wouldn't apologise "to New Zealanders for the offensive words that she has used". 

Davidson responded: "It is important to me to clarify especially directly to victims and survivors who may not have seen themselves in the words that I use. This is why I have made it clear what I intended to say."

National leader Luxon on Tuesday morning said Davidson's comments "were incredibly harmful" and a "generalisation of an entire group of people".

Luxon wants a public apology and particularly to the "group she caused offence to". 

"What I think we need to hear from Marama Davidson now is an apology to the people that she caused offence to," he said. "She should do it publicly and she should do it to the people that she hurt."

Luxon later said "a number of people in the public would have been offended".

As a white cis man, he wasn't "super offended" as "I don't listen too closely to what Marama Davidson has to say".

Other National MPs were aghast at Davidson's comments. Among them was former National leader Judith Collins. 

"I thought she was wrong, racist and actually really divisive," Collins said.

Asked why she thought it was racist, Collins said: "It's pretty clear".