Penny Wong has a message for Israel Folau.

The Labor Senator took a moment to compose herself before delivering what she called an "emotional" response to the ex-Wallaby's social media tirade.

Wong was responding to a question from the studio audience on Monday night's Q&A about whether the response to Folau's comments would be different if he were a Muslim rather than a Christian.

"OK, two points I want to address," Wong began.

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"First, in relation to Mr Folau, can I say — first on an emotional level — I wish that we could have more expressions of love and forgiveness rather than condemnation when it came to belief.

"I wish public figures, politicians, sporting stars, may consider … where their words land with vulnerable Australians."

Then the practising Christian, who attends Pilgrim Uniting Church in Adelaide, made it clear she and Folau see their religion very differently.

"He is entitled to his beliefs," she said. "I disagree. I think we ought remember he doesn't speak for all Christians.

"In terms of the broader issue, we are an accepting, tolerant nation … Whatever happens in this current debate around religious freedom, I think we mustn't lose sight of those key characteristics of Australian identity.

"We don't want to become less accepting, less tolerant. We don't want to abrogate our agreed view that people are entitled to equality before the law, that we believe that people are equal, regardless of gender, race, faith, sexuality, disability, etc.

"We should hold to those objectives, that we're not seeking to diminish that. I'm open to a discussion about how we deal with religious protections.

"But I would make this point: There is a distinction between a right to belief and the assertion that that belief should lead to you being treated differently before the law."

Folau was sacked by Rugby Australia after posting views on social media that were deemed in breach of his contract.

He paraphrased Bible passages suggesting "drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters" would go to hell unless they repented.

Folau is arguing he was unfairly dismissed on religious grounds and is seeking $10 million in damages from RA. He also wants his contract reinstated.

Human rights lawyer Diana Sayed told the panel the Morrison Government — which is expected to table a religious discrimination bill later this year — must not "give people a licence to discriminate".

"It is really important that this bill strikes a balance that people who are free to practice their religion are not granted a licence to discriminate," she said.

Liberal Senator Scott Ryan said legislation cannot "peer into people's souls".

"I don't know if something can be said — or something that is said — should be legal because of a particularly religious view, whether that be being Christian, being Muslim or the writings of (American author) L Ron Hubbard.

"I don't like laws going to motive. I like laws looking at actions."