News from Human Rights Commission
The Human Rights Commission has condemned a violent attack on staff and patrons at a gay bar in central Wellington last Friday. GayNZ reported that the alleged attackers were abusive and violent when they realised the bar and the people in it were gay.
“New Zealand’s excellent human rights record means little if some New Zealanders are still attacked because of who they are,” says Human Rights Commissioner Richard Tankersley.
“We value our freedom in New Zealand and that includes being able to live our lives free from fear.”
“While it’s good that the staff and patrons stood up for themselves, they shouldn’t have had to in the first place. The Commission is pleased the Police are investigating this complaint as justice needs to be sought for all victims of crime.
“Respect for others is a founding principle of human rights – you don’t pick and choose who deserves dignity and who doesn’t,” said Mr Tankersley.
“I also encourage everyday people to stand up and support others whose rights are being breached. If we all do this, then we will have a nation that’s safer, fairer and more just for all of us.”
News from GayNZ
An assault charge has been laid over a violent incident at Wellington’s Ivy Bar on Friday night.
Bar manager Steven Mawhinney has told GayNZ.com he was punched in the head seven or eight times after he’d asked a group of men to leave the venue. He says they had been abusive to customers after realising they were in a gay bar.
A Wellington police spokesman says police were called to the Cuba St venue just after 10.30PM on Friday. He says one person was arrested, and has been charged with assault.
The spokesman says police are taking statements from two victims and investigations are continuing.
News from GayNZ
A staff member at Wellington’s Ivy Bar says violence he suffered at the hands of a group of men who didn’t realise they’d walked into a gay bar was “the worst thing I have seen in my life”.
Bar manager Steven Mawhinney says the men came into the Cuba St venue on Friday night “not realising what sort of bar it was” and “once they realised what it was they took great offence and all the nasty homophobic slurs came out that you could imagine”.
He says he initially managed to get them to leave, but they came back. “A couple of minutes later I heard a large bang in the entranceway, so I ran out the front to front a couple of customers on the stairwell. Apparently they’d thrown one of their alcohol cans at the heads at these customers as they’d walked into the bar.”
Mawhinney says they were abusing customers in front of the bar so he went and asked them to go away. “I told them I was going to have to call in the cops and they just continued throwing slurs and that at the customers. The customers were obviously a bit vocal back to them, not willing to take it, which is fair enough. But unfortunately that was enough for one of them to be provoked and he went to go at one of the customers,” he says.
“So I dropped my shoulder into him to push him out of the bar and his mate came along and started belting me in the head a few times, then the big fulla got a few whacks in too. It happened quite quickly. I got seven to eight good belts to the head.”
People at the bar eventually managed to drive them off. Mawhinney says he suffered cuts and bruises and has a sore and tender head, and had to go to the hospital for observation, “but nothing major, nothing substantial. All superficial luckily. It could have been a lot worse.”
Mawhinney says people have walked into the bar before not realising it was a gay venue, and just walked out again.
“To be honest, I’m 30 now and I’ve been out since I was 17. This is the worst thing I have seen in my life. The hatred. That’s the only way I could describe the way these guys were. They had pure hatred for anyone that they presumed to be gay.”
A gathering has been organised at Ivy on Friday night by the team behind community event Out in the Park. It’s a chance for people to show their support for Mawhinney and stand in solidarity against homophobia and violence “to human beings in general”.