“The comments not only illustrate the casual prejudice that gays and lesbians encounter in everyday life, but seeing as the comment was directed toward someone who wasn’t even gay, it’s a very good example of how prejudice against gay and lesbian people affects far more than just a minority,” says Pride Week Co-ordinator Brent Mitchell.
Mitchell says it is ironic that this incident has been reported in the media during Pride Week, an annual gay community celebration organised by the New Zealand AIDS Foundation, and on the same day he is holding one of NZAF’s regular “Who Are You Hurting?” workshops, which are designed to counter sexuality-based prejudice.
“We’ve conducted these workshops for police in the past,” he says. “They’re also attended by medical and educational professionals, and act as a heads-up on how people in positions of trust and authority can deal with sexuality issues sensitively.”
Mitchell says he has extended an invitation to Christchurch senior police
recruitment officers to come along.
“Pride Week this year has enjoyed great support from the police, we had two diversity liaison officers in attendance on our opening night,” he says. “We appreciate the efforts police are making to eliminate homophobia in the force and are willing to assist in any way we can.”