After New Zealand’s prime minister invoked rape in an angry parliamentary debate over the fate of New Zealanders detained at an Australian migrant-detention facility, female legislators responded by revealing that they were victims of sexual assault—and were then kicked out by the chamber’s speaker.
Prime Minister John Key’s comments were made Tuesday, during a debate over the issue of New Zealanders—some with criminal records—being detained on Christmas Island, a remote Australian territory. Some have lived in Australia for years, but face deportation because of a change in Australian immigration policy. The opposition Labour and Green parties asked the prime minister about what will happen to the detainees. Key pounced on the question, accusing the parties of “backing the rapists.”
Watch Key’s comments that resulted in the furor:
“These are the people that the Labour party are saying are more important to support than New Zealanders who deserve protecting when they come back here,” Key said, later telling a Labour member: “If you want to put yourself on the side of sex offenders, go ahead my son, but we’ll defend New Zealanders.”
About three-quarters of Labour MPs and several Green MPs walked out of parliament after Key’s remarks, The Guardian reported.