The libertarian senator has refused to back down, saying he was ‘offended’ by Senator Hanson-Young’s comments on male violence against women.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has condemned David Leyonhjelm’s “offensive” comments about Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young, urging the outspoken senator to apologise.
Senator Leyonhjelm has refused to withdraw his explicit comments about Senator Hanson-Young’s sex life, despite the threat of potential legal action.
Mr Turnbull said he “could not recall” such offensive comments ever being uttered in the parliament – referring to Senator Leyonhjelm’s suggestion that his Greens rival “stop shagging men”.
“Senator Leyonhjelm’s offensive remarks should have been withdrawn,” Mr Turnbull told reporters.
“He should apologise, and it is not too late to do so.”
The Liberal Democrats’ only elected member has refused to apologise, saying he was on “solid ground” over his comments in the Senate chamber.
In further TV interviews, Senator Leyonhjelm alluded to “rumours” about her private life, drawing strong condemnation from across the political spectrum.
“Bring it on,” the senator said when asked about Senator Hanson-Young’s move to seek advice from a defamation lawyer.
Leyonhjelm has made a name from himself as a ‘free speech’ advocate.
He claims Senator Hanson-Young made a comment in the Senate chamber that was not recorded by Hansard that implied all men were rapists.
But in an interview with the ABC’s 7.30 program, he conceded he could not remember the wording.
He said it was something like ‘if only men would stop raping women’.
Senator Hanson-Young also appeared on the ABC on Monday, denying she said: "all men are rapists".
"I did not say those words. I did not infer them and I do not believe them. To suggest so is simply a lie," she said.
Senator Leyonhjelm's comments have also drawn condemnation from Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Education Minister Simon Birmingham and former prime minister Tony Abbott, who called him "smug and self-righteous".
"The comments were highly disrespectful and we need more respect in public life, not less," Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said.
"I believe he has proven himself incapable of showing respect and is unfit to represent not only women but all decent Australians, in our nation's parliament," Senator Hanson-Young said in a statement on Monday.
"I will not be intimidated or bullied by offensive and sexist slurs on my professional reputation."
Senator Hanson-Young said she had put up with sexualised slurs shouted at her for years in the parliament.