Over the weekend former National MP Maurice Williamson was baffled to find he was suddenly big in Japan.

Williamson, New Zealand's Consul-General in Los Angeles, received a huge surge in Twitter followers and, while pleased, had no idea why.

It turns out Williamson's "big gay rainbow" speech went viral in Japan, in response to a politician's homophobic comments.

A senior member of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party was criticised for saying same-sex partners of state guests shouldn't be invited to banquets hosted by the Emperor and Empress.

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Williamson's speech, delivered during the final reading of the same-sex marriage legislation in 2013, was widely shared on social media in response.

In that speech, Williamson said, "one of the messages that I had was that this bill was the cause of our drought. Well, in the Pakuranga electorate this morning, it was pouring with rain. We had the most enormous big gay rainbow across my electorate."

The speech went global, with endorsement from high-profile individuals such as Stephen Fry and Ellen DeGeneres.