New Zealand pastor who thinks gay people deserve a ‘bullet in the head’ escapes hate speech charges

New Zealand pastor Logan Robertson, wearing a grey suit jacket over a light blue shirt with red patterned tie, speaks to cameras in a parking lot

A New Zealand pastor has escaped hate speech charges despite saying publicly that gay couples deserve “a bullet in the head”.

Logan Robertson made the comment in 2017, during a sermon, later posted to Facebook, at Westcity Bible Baptist Church in Auckland, New Zealand.

Robertson, who was previously deported from Australia for allegedly harassing Muslim people in a mosque and said that prime minister Jacinda Arden should leave parliament and “get in the kitchen where women belong”, told the congregation: “My view on homo marriage is that the Bible never mentions it!

“So I’m not against them getting married… As long as a bullet goes through their head the moment they kiss.

‘That’s what [the Bible] talks about – not homo marriage but homo death. There’s no such thing as homo marriage. That’s what should happen.”

Last year, gay Catholic and theology scholar Russell Thomas Hoban filed a lawsuit insisting Robertson’s comments should be considered hate speech.

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New Zealand hate speech laws don’t include sexual orientation

But under New Zealand’s Human Rights Act 1993, people are only protected from hate speech if they are targeted because of their colour, race, or ethnic or national origins.

Though New Zealand’s government had previously moved to change this, last month it was announced that plans to add gender, sexuality and disability to hate speech laws had been scrapped. The only change moving forwards will be the addition of religion as a protected characteristic.

In October this year Hoban’s claim was dismissed by the Human Rights Review Tribunal, and this week, the court dismissed his appeal.

“In our view, Mr Hoban would have justifiably found the statements of the pastor highly objectionable, and the lack of any provision making such comments unlawful concerning,” Justice Francis Cooke ruled.

‘Mr Hoban and the Human Rights Commission referred to a number of international materials that demonstrate a growing call to make hate speech on the ground of sexual orientation unlawful.”

However, Cooke said that it would be a matter for parliament, rather than the tribunal, to decide whether hate speech based on sexual orientation should be prohibited in New Zealand.

Hoban said he was “so disappointed’ by the ruling, and said that the court had displayed a “complete lack of courage”.

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