While a guest on ABC's RN Drive radio program on March 20, Australian Senator Malcolm Roberts told host Patricia Karvelas some women enjoy being "wolf-[whistled]," 9 News reports. He also said when it comes to verbal sexual harassment, Australian law goes too far to protect women.
Per BuzzFeed, the One Nation-party politician and the radio host had been speaking about Australia's hate speech laws before the topic turned to sexual harassment. The conversation went as follows:
Karvelas: You did say you did think that sexual harassment should be illegal, and it is of course, but sexual harassment can be verbal. It's not always physical. When it's verbal should that also be legal?
Roberts: Well, we know when someone… is a wolf-whistle harassment? It depends upon the person. Some girls think that that is wonderful, they, you know, they smile. Others are offended. So, wolf-whistle in one court, are we going to outlaw it, and another court we're going to say it's fine, a compliment?
Karvelas: So in that sense you think sexual harassment laws go too far as well?
Roberts: When it comes to verbal, as I said before, yeah.
Karvelas: You do?
Karvelas: So do you believe in law reform around sexual harassment laws?
Roberts: I haven't seen the sexual harassment laws, so I'd need to read them first.
BuzzFeed also links to Australia's 1984 Sex Discrimination Act, which includes "making a statement of a sexual nature to a person, or in the presence of a person, whether the statement is made orally or in writing" in its definition of sexual harassment. Roberts repeatedly said laws against racially based hate speech should be abolished too because "offense is taken, not given."
Though Roberts hasn't yet issued a statement in response to the growing backlash, Karvelas continues to retweet people outraged by the comments made on her show.
You can listen to the program in full here.
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This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.