A Wellington all-boys college has hit back at claims of homophobia - saying it would allow two of its students to "date" each other at its ball.
St Patrick's College student Malcolm Pimentel wanted to bring his friend, former St Pat's student Keith Labad, but said he was told by rector Father Paul Martin that he had to bring a girl.
However, Father Martin yesterday told the Herald that the issue was not one of sex, rather that Malcolm's chosen date was an ex-pupil.
When asked whether two boys from St Patrick's could go together as each other's dates to the ball, Father Martin said: "If they were both from St Pat's that's fine.
"They can do that and I would imagine a number would do that," he said.
"Fundamentally our ball is for our boys only and we don't offer our ball or our dances to boys from other schools or old boys.
"The issue is really around management ... it's not easy having a whole lot of boys there so to add other boys to the mixture, we're not prepared to do that."
Malcolm and Keith said the policy was discriminatory and that it bans homosexual students from bringing a partner from outside of their own school.
"If the policy says that you may not take a boy to the dance who is one year out of school, but may take a girl who is one year out of school, then they are indirectly homophobic," they said in an email.
The pair said they were just friends and not a couple, but have threatened to take the matter to the Human Rights Commission if St Patrick's does not abolish the policy.
"Specifically, we demand that St Patrick's College change its policy so that its queer students have the same ability as their straight counterparts to invite the young person of their choice to the ball."
HRC spokesman Gilbert Wong said it received a number of complaints every year about pupils not being allowed to bring same-sex partners to school balls.
He said most complainants were able to resolve the issue with the school directly.