The Green and Labour parties are asking why the Human Rights Act (HRC) does not have a clause against gay hate speech, after the Human Rights Commission revealed that was the reason why complaints against Destiny Church's Brian Tamaki could not be progressed last year.
The HRC says a total of 20 complaints were received after Mr Tamaki made comments in November referring to the Old Testament's Leviticus and implying that homosexuality was a cause of natural disasters just days before the Kaikoura earthquake.
A Charities Services committee ruled last year that the Bill of Rights Act's freedom of speech sections guarantee Mr Tamaki's right to express his religious beliefs.
Collated information was then put to the agency this year by 1 NEWS consisting of several instances already in the public domain where statements some would perceive to be anti-gay or discriminatory were made by the self-appointed Bishop.
After considering the information, the agency again declined to investigate Destiny entities, but this time took the additional step of referring the information to the Human Rights Commission to see if a criminal offence had been committed, therefore constituting "serious wrongdoing" and being grounds for the deregistration of Destiny's charities.
An HRC spokesperson said it could not recommend action be taken because the comments were prejudicial against those of a certain sexual orientation- and that is not a specific offence under New Zealand's Human Rights Act.
Green Party spokesperson for Rainbow Issues Jan Logie says it is time for the legislation to be updated to meet "contemporary needs" and the Labour Party's spokesperson for the Community and Voluntary sector Poto Williams agrees, saying a review of the Human Rights Act is "definitely something that is worth considering".
"Hate speech is hate speech," Ms Williams said.
HRC Chief Mediator Pele Walker said general comments like Bishop Tamaki's, "even when highly offensive", would not meet the standards for a criminal offence, as there is no clause under the Human Rights Act against verbal comments made against people based on their sexual orientation.
I think we need to review the Act and there are quite a few discussions that we need to have to ensure it reflects our current values and all of our rights- Green Party LGBTI spokesperson Jan Logie
However, HRC Commissioner Richard Tankersley told 1 NEWS that while hate speech based on sexual orientation is not illegal, "we would expect all people, especially those who hold themselves out as religious leaders, to act and speak in a manner consistent with values of inclusion, respect and compassion towards other members of our community, irrespective of their sexual orientation or gender identity".
The Greens' Ms Logie said: "I think we need to review the Act and there are quite a few discussions that we need to have to ensure it reflects our current values and all of our rights.
"I have long held concerns regarding some of the hateful, worrying views regarding gays and women promoted by Destiny Church ... as a lesbian, and as a modern New Zealander, I find many of their views abhorrent."
MPs from both the Labour Party and National Party - including Chris Finlayson, Steven Joyce, Paul Foster-Bell, Grant Robertson and David Clark - spoke out about the comments last year.
Regarding a potential change to the Human Rights Act, Justice Minister Amy Adams said she is comfortable with how the current legislation works.
"While there is no explicit offence of hate speech, it is an aggravating factor under the Sentencing Act 2002 if an offence is committed because of hostility towards a group of people who have an enduring common characteristic such as sexual orientation," Ms Adams said in a statement.
"The Government considers that existing provisions provide the appropriate balance between freedom of expression and protecting people from discrimination and there currently no plans to review or alter the existing provisions in this area."
A spokesperson for Destiny Church told 1 NEWS: "We all want our rights protected, so we also look forward to the day when there is a law that protects freedom of religious belief without being subject to discrimination, public insults and constant media haranguing."
Other countries which have specific anti-hate speech laws based on sexual orientation:
The United Kingdom
Australia (in Queensland, Tasmania and ACT)