ZB

ACT candidate booed after defending hate speech against transgender people

Author
Georgia Nelson,
Publish Date
Wed, 23 Aug 2017, 8:22am
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ACT candidate booed after defending hate speech against transgender people

Author
Georgia Nelson,
Publish Date
Wed, 23 Aug 2017, 8:22am

An Act Party candidate has been booed by a crowd in Wellington after defending hate speech aimed at transgender people, saying they have a right to call them whatever they want.

Stephen Berry says such hate speech is "disgusting", but people also have the right to tell those spouting it they're "disgusting". 

More than 100 people attended an election forum for the rainbow community at St Andrew's on the Terrace last night.

Candidates from eight parties discussed issues from biphobia and health underfunding, through to international human rights abuses.

But when it got to the issue of freedom of speech, things turned heated.

Labour MP Grant Robertson told the crowd we need to ditch the word tolerance, and replace it with acceptance and celebration.

But Act Party spokesperson Stephen Berry had a different view: "In a free country, freedom of speech is probably about the most important value we have, and so that's why we cannot have laws banning hate speech.

"People like Brian Tamaki has the right to express his s***ty views, and we also have the right to call him out on how s***ty those views are - that's what freedom's about."

A member of the audience then asked Berry: "What about trans people who are told to go kill themselves?"

To which Berry said, "If people tell you to jump off a bridge do you do it? No of course not.

"It is disgusting speech but that is part of living in a free country. And that is why you have the freedom to tell these people how disgusting they are."

This morning Berry is standing by his comments.

"The crowd didn't receive it well at all, which was quite disturbing actually.

"I remember growing up as a kid, well as a teenager, and part of my rebelling was the importance of freedom of speech."

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