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April 30, 2012 | by  | in Features | [ssba]

A Touchy Subject

Gay adoption? Let’s try kissing in public first.

Whilst walking through town, my boyfriend and I have a tacit agreement to cease holding hands with one another the moment either of us feels uncomfortable. For such a silent understanding I am frequently amazed at how often our decision to unlock digits feels like a mutual one.

Then again, perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that this happens every time we near a figure we deem possible of harbouring malcontent toward homosexuals. Generally speaking, the burlier the man the more bigoted we believe him to be.

Our actions may speak more of our own privately-held discriminations than those of a complete stranger’s; however hypothetical. Despite this, we justify our emergency procedure by telling ourselves that while it may be largely unnecessary— and occasionally self-fulfilling—at least our brand of harboured-partiality is muted and only acted upon passively. If we are saved judgement served by a fist then it is a worthwhile exercise, or so the thinking goes.

Unfortunately our fears are not wholly unwarranted. Despite the most incredible progression for gay rights, discrimination still exists. Whilst in London last year I was chilled by the brutal murder of a gay man in Trafalgar Square. Two teenage thugs repeatedly stamped-on and kicked their male victims in the head. One of the couple recovered, whilst the other died from brain injuries 18 days later having never recovered consciousness. About the same time as this attack, vicious anti-gay sentiments began popping up on walls throughout East London.

So it was with a heavy heart that I digested the recent news of the lesbian couple who claimed they were ejected from a Wellington bar for kissing. The couple’s complaint may or may not have been a genuine plea of homophobia, but I can confidently say one thing: it does happen. My reaction to the story was shaped significantly by an almost identical personal experience. In the case of my own encounter with a bouncer in a different Courtenay Place establishment, I felt unjustly treated because of my sexuality. Events are rarely as clean-cut as witness testimonial allows, but in this particular instance I felt compelled.

The lesbian couple had equally minimal evidence to support a case for discrimination, but a five-minute sojourn onto the business’ Facebook page unearths some pretty concrete examples. The preponderance of disquieting remarks makes one wonder whether or not gay rights have truly moved forwards to the extent most assume they have.

Against such a backdrop, is it any wonder that some people might feel more disturbed at being asked to leave a bar than others? It is unfortunate indeed if these girls were mistaken in identifying the actions of this bouncer as homophobic. Given that gay people have, and still do, get expelled from venues for showing affection I can’t help thinking: can you blame them for suspecting it? And besides; doesn’t the very fact that they felt compelled enough to complain suggest they felt forlorn, regardless of whether the bouncer was guilty of the charges or not?

That same day, The Dominion Post ran a feature article on ‘taboo topics’ in Parliament. Gay adoption was cited as the next victory for the queer community to want discussed in the House. In light of recent events, may I suggest something a little more fundamental? A more active encouragement for broader shifts in societal attitudes perhaps?


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