Gay taunts 'a little bit like racism'

By Tracey Roxburgh

Ricardo Edward, who says he is taunted about his sexuality every time he goes out at night in Queenstown. Photo / Tracey Roxburgh
Ricardo Edward, who says he is taunted about his sexuality every time he goes out at night in Queenstown. Photo / Tracey Roxburgh

A Queenstown man says he is subjected to taunts over his sexuality, which he likens to racism, every time he goes out in the resort at night.

However, Ricardo Edward (35) said he had been overwhelmed by support after he admitted breaking the jaw of an Australian "homophobe" during an altercation in a Queenstown bar last year.

Mr Edward was convicted in the Queenstown District Court on Tuesday on a charge of injuring by an unlawful act and fined $500.

Judge Tom Broadmore reduced the charge of injuring with reckless disregard to reflect the "very major contribution" the victim, Michael Owen, had made in the incident.

Mr Edward, a housekeeper, said he had been fielding messages from strangers who read about his case in the Otago Daily Times yesterday.

"I've had ... people I don't even know ... who have read about it and sent messages of support."

Mr Edward, originally from Gisborne, accepted what he did was wrong and said it was the first time he had reacted physically to being taunted due to his sexual orientation.

"Not all people are like that, but you come across it ... more than you should, especially in a place like Queenstown, which is surprising.

"I encounter it at least once [every time I go out]. It's not usually to that level, though.

"I guess it's a little bit like racism," he said.

"It's kind of sad ... when you're going out to have a good night that you know in your mind somebody's going to say something - you're just waiting for it sometimes."

He said he had learned his lesson from the incident, but believed it was time for people to show more tolerance to others in general.

"Who cares [if you're] gay, straight, black, blue, purple? It really doesn't matter. Worry about yourself and not what everyone else is doing."

Mr Edward said he and his flatmate were "dancing around" at the Camp St Brewery in Queenstown on November 28 last year, unaware of Mr Owen's presence.

The victim "came out of nowhere".

"I didn't even notice he was there at first; he was just mocking us, really.

"He was [imitating] our moves and what have you - I just thought he was having a joke at first.

"[Then] he was leaning in and saying things like 'is this how you people dance'; really silly things like that."

Mr Edward said he and his associate tried to ignore Mr Owen, who was described in court as intoxicated, but the victim began taunting them further.

"That's when I started having stern words with him. [My associate] was just like 'leave it' and I thought 'Why should I? Who the hell is he [to do that]?'."

It was after that exchange, Mr Owen called the two men "faggots".

"I don't like that word and I swung," he said.

Initially, Mr Owen was arrested for disorderly behaviour, but at the Queenstown Police Station he began complaining of a sore jaw, later found to be broken, which led to the charge against Mr Edward.

- Otago Daily Times

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf05 at 28 Dec 2014 20:03:44 Processing Time: 443ms