Being told to "burn in hell" is just part of the "normal flow of political abuse", Jacob Rees-Mogg told MPs as he warned that "you don’t want to undermine freedom of speech".
James Dornan, an SNP MSP, told Mr Rees-Mogg that he would "undoubtedly rot in hell" over his support of the Government’s Nationality and Borders Bill. Mr Dornan has been reported to the Standards Commission for Scotland.
Mr Rees-Mogg, a Catholic, told the Commons women and equalities committee: "Somebody has recently – an SNP MSP – said that I shall burn in hell for all the terrible things I have said. I think that is the normal flow of political abuse.
"I don’t think that is threatening violence, and therefore I think balance is relatively straightforward [to achieve with forthcoming legislation] but it’s crucial to get it right.
"You don’t want to undermine freedom of speech, while at the same time we have to protect people and make them feel comfortable in the work that they are doing. We have a duty – a duty of care – to our fellow MPs."
He said "male politicians simply do not get the level of violent and personal abuse that women get and this is therefore a problem that needs to be tackled".
Referring to forthcoming legislation that aims to combat such abuse, the Leader of the Commons said a balance needed to be struck between freedom of speech and cracking down on abuse. He added that if something is illegal offline, the same rules should apply on social media and that MPs can expect a "normal flow of political abuse".
"Scrutiny is so important," Mr Rees-Mogg said. "We have to get the balance right between making an environment where everybody – women and ethnic minorities but also all of us – feel safe in our work, without stopping freedom of speech.
"So I think the dividing lines are relatively straightforward. When somebody is making threats of violence or is stirring up racial hatred, that is not freedom of speech – that is illegal under normal law."
According to the Government’s Online Safety Bill, announced in the Queen’s Speech, social media firms will have to protect debate but also remove harmful content quickly or potentially face multi billion-pound fines.