National

Hanson-Young fights Leyonjelm’s slurs

By AAP Newswire

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young has vowed to fight David Leyonhjelm "slut-shaming" her as part of a wider campaign to stamp out sexism in Australian workplaces.

Senator Leyonhjelm told Senator Hanson-Young to "stop shagging men" during a debate in federal parliament last week.

He doubled down on those comments on Sunday before making references to her private life in an interview on Sky News.

Senator Hanson-Young said she felt compelled to speak out after years of ignoring sexist slurs and demanded Senator Leyonhjelm resign over his "appalling" comments.

An emotional Senator Hanson-Young said Senator Leyonhjelm suggested she was sexually promiscuous because he was losing a political debate in parliament over women's safety.

"He's slut-shaming me," Senator Hanson-Young told ABC radio on Tuesday.

She said she has endured slurs in parliament for years.

"It started as mutterings in the corridors, lining up in the coffee line," she said.

"It started as very quiet, to see how far they could get. I ignored it, I hoped it would go away. It has now got to a point where the slurs are not just yelled across the chamber - they're now put on national television, they're used in interviews."

She urged men and women across Australia to call out sexism, bullying and intimidation.

Reputational risk lawyer Rebekah Giles has sent letters to Senator Leyonhjelm, broadcaster Sky News and Melbourne radio station 3AW about a possible defamation action.

Faced with legal action, the NSW Liberal Democratic Party senator said "bring it on".

Senator Hanson-Young said while most male politicians were decent, some were cowards.

"This is an opportunity to fix this, to clean up the parliament and to make sure that it is a safe place for women," she said.

Tensions between Senator Hanson-Young and Senator Leyonhjelm kicked off in parliament on Thursday when he told her to "stop shagging men" after he claims to have heard her say "all men are rapists", which she denies.

When she confronted him over the comment, he told her to f*** off.

Senator Leyonhjelm said he had no intention of withdrawing or apologising, arguing he was standing up to her assumption men were responsible for the evils of the world.

"Pointing out the fact Sarah has boyfriends is not slut-shaming," he told the Nine Network.

Asked if she believed all men are rapists, Senator Hanson-Young told Nine: "no, I do not, but I do believe that David Leyonhjelm is unfit to be in the Australian parliament".

The prime minister and Labor leader Bill Shorten on Tuesday joined calls for Senator Leyonhjelm to apologise.

"It was clearly offensive, it should have been withdrawn and apologised for. It's not too late for him to do so now," Mr Turnbull told reporters in Sydney on Tuesday.

Mr Shorten urged Senator Leyonhjelm to apologise sooner rather than later.