New Zealand likes to think of itself as a modern, tolerant, liberal society. We've decriminalised homosexuality, outlawed discrimination, and largely - with the obvious exceptions of marriage and adoption - changed our laws to make that a reality.
Sadly, its just not true:
A young Auckland man says he was knocked unconscious and left lying in a gutter over the weekend following what appears to have been a homophobic attack.
Zakk d'Larte, 18, was approached by three men near Westhaven at 7pm on Saturday after walking a group of friends to a boat party at the marina.
D'Larte believes his attackers initially thought from a distance he was female and wolf-whistled at him and called him "sweetie", before getting closer and realising he was a male.
It was then their tone quickly changed to aggression and the men started making hateful, anti-gay remarks. He does not know why the men thought he was a girl as he was wearing jeans and a T-shirt.
"I think they soon realised I was a male and were really disgusted with themselves.
"And then they just started saying I was a burden to society and they wished they could do to the gays what Hitler did to the Jews, and that sort of thing."
The men started punching him, continuing to hit him when he fell to the ground.
He believes they still beat him after he was unconscious and suspects injuries to his back and ribs are a result of them kicking him while he was knocked out.
This is a hate crime, pure and simple. And it shows that we have a long, long way to go before we can truly call ourselves modern, tolerant and liberal.
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