Gay slurs ruin rugby night

By Amelia Wade

Three male spectators target All Blacks fan after she objects to their homophobic jibes.

Sarah Murphy (left) and her girlfriend, Hannah Spyksma were upset by homophobic jibes made at Saturday's test match, but told "it's just part of the game." Photo / Sarah Ivey
Sarah Murphy (left) and her girlfriend, Hannah Spyksma were upset by homophobic jibes made at Saturday's test match, but told "it's just part of the game." Photo / Sarah Ivey

A young woman who asked three All Blacks fans at Eden Park not to use homophobic slurs was told by the men that "it's just part of the game".

Hannah Spyksma, 24, was at the All Blacks versus France test on Saturday with her family and the three men were sitting in the row behind.

The men, believed to be in their early to mid 20s, were yelling at players, calling them "homos and faggots".

When Ms Spyksma complained they yelled back: "If you don't like us using the word faggot then don't come to the footy because it's just part of the game."

New Zealand Rugby and Eden Park management both said last night they did not condone the men's behaviour - but stadium bosses said it wasn't their job to be the "PC police".

The verbal abuse went on throughout the game.

"Every time they said something like that, I'd just tense up but then it got to a point where I couldn't stand it any longer," Ms Spyksma said.

After 70 minutes, Ms Spyksma, a Rainbow Youth board member, told the men their language was not acceptable and asked them to stop.

But then they turned on her for the rest of the match, directing slurs in her ear, tapping her on the head and telling her not to go to the rugby again.

Her brother put his arm around her, but no one else in the crowd around her stood up for her.

"Since when is it okay for three men to so blatantly hate on a girl in front of a crowd and get away with it? I was really disappointed that nobody stood up and said, 'That's not okay'," Ms Spyksma told the Herald.

"In my opinion, marriage equality was the first step ... as long as that kind of language is still used, tolerated and condoned then we've got a long way to go before any equality."

Ms Spyksma has a girlfriend, Sarah Murphy, who wasn't at the match. But regardless of whether she was gay or not, she doesn't think anyone sticking up for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) people should be a target for abuse.

Ms Spyksma said she felt uncomfortable about laying a complaint because she seemed to be alone in her opinion of the men's language.

Eden Park spokeswoman Tracy Morgan said harassment of a patron would not be condoned and the men could have been evicted for that.

But unless everyone else around Ms Spyksma was offended by the men's slurs, they would likely not have been kicked out. Ms Morgan said it wasn't Eden Park's place to "be the PC police".

"If she's saying that she was isolated and that it shouldn't be acceptable, it's not our job - I don't believe - to try to move the cultural morals of society."

The stadium has a text service where people can complain about any anti-social or offensive behaviour without them becoming a target.

General manager of public affairs at New Zealand Rugby, Nick Brown, urged anyone with concerns about other patrons to alert security.

Last week, the All Blacks and the Silver Ferns launched the Applaud programme which aims to promote positive sideline behaviour.

University of Auckland psychology lecturer Danny Osborne has researched the relationship between participation in core sport, such as rugby, and homophobia.

"That somebody can stand up for what's right should be applauded."

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- NZ Herald

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