National's Christopher Luxon says he supports trans community, Kiwis expressing identity 'without persecution', but not opposing Posie Parker's NZ travel

National leader Christopher Luxon wants Kiwis to be able to express their sexuality or identity "without any persecution", but isn't opposing anti-transgender activist Posie Parker coming to New Zealand.

Parker - who is also known by her real name Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull - is a controversial British figure who founded the 'Standing for Women' group which campaigns against transgender rights and doesn't recognise transgender individuals by their preferred gender.

She's planning to speak in both Auckland and Wellington this weekend following chaotic events across Australia. At one in Melbourne, pro- and anti-transgender protesters clashed, leading to alleged assaults and arrests, while a group of neo-Nazis also turned out, sparking alarm.

After an uproar over her planned travel to New Zealand, Immigration NZ reviewed her case but found "no reason to believe that she is, or is likely to be, a threat or risk to the public order or public interest". That means she can't be barred from entering. 

The High Court on Friday dismissed a case from rainbow groups who wanted that decision overturned. 

Luxon was asked on Friday whether he believed Parker should be allowed in. He didn't directly answer the question but said he supported people being able to speak their minds. 

"We live in a liberal democracy and it's really important we have free speech. That means we have to defend people's right to free speech even if we disagree strongly with what they are saying.

"The great thing about free speech and the best thing that can happen is someone puts a counter-view to those arguments and that's exactly what should happen in a liberal democracy. I may not like her comments, but the reality is free speech is really important in our democracy and it is a high bar to ban someone in that regard."

Luxon said he "absolutely" supported the rights of the trans community in New Zealand. 

"We want New Zealand to be a place where you can safely express your sexuality and your identity without any persecution, without any problems with that. We want every New Zealander to be who they are and be able to express who they are, freely."

He said he wouldn't be attending either Parker's events or counter-protests planned against her. Luxon also wasn't aware of any of his MPs planning to attend and said he hadn't advised them not to go.

"I don't think I'll need to," Luxon said.

National leader Christopher Luxon.
National leader Christopher Luxon. Photo credit: Newshub.

It's expectedGreen MPs and at least one Labour MP will attend counter-protests over the weekend.

Following the Immigration NZ decision, Michael Wood said he would prefer she "never set foot in New Zealand".

"I find many of her views repugnant, and am concerned by the way in which she courts some of the most vile people and groups around including white supremacists," said Wood, the Immigration Minister.

"The decision on whether to suspend her NZeTA sits with Immigration New Zealand and they have assessed that she meets the criteria set out in the Immigration Act and regulations. This assessment took into account the events in Melbourne that occurred last weekend. 

"I have been advised that this case does not meet the threshold for Ministerial intervention."

Green MP Ricardo Menéndez March reacted by saying New Zealand has the "tools to factor in public safety, and have used it to prevent performers and other people coming in the past".

"The violent rhetoric and rallies in Australia pose a direct physical safety risk to many communities here.

"Our immigration system creates barriers explicitly targeting disabled, queer, and migrants from non-visa waiver countries while enabling ease of access to people from visa waiver countries affiliating to far-right groups actively promoting violence to so many".

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins previously said he believed in freedom of speech but there were lines that shouldn't be crossed. He wouldn't give a position on Immigration NZ's review.

"People are entitled to express their views, people are entitled to condemn other people whose views they disagree with," he said.

"No one's entitled to incite people to violence and to things such as that.

"I'd encourage everyone, when they're exercising their right to free speech, to do so responsibly. That's part of living in a community."