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"I regret that his jaw was broken"

Sat 30 Aug 2014 In: True Stories View at Wayback View at NDHA

Gay Queenstown man Ricardo Edwards got off relatively lightly in court this week, with just a $500 fine for breaking a homophobic Australian man’s jaw when he punched him in a bar. That’s because the judge agreed there was "considerable provocation". "He said something with the word faggot. And then I swung,” Ricardo Edwards says. Edwards tells he and a gay friend were drinking at the Camp St Brewery on November 28 last year, when a man started mocking them. “We were dancing to a Spice Girls song. Then out of the corner of my eye I saw this dude dancing behind us. I didn’t really think about it, but then the more he stayed there the more I realised he was mocking us.” The 35-year-old says he and his friend just carried on enjoying their night and tried to ignore him. “Then he started leaning in and saying ‘is this how you move?’ Like, you know, ‘is this how you people move?’” Edwards says he came over when the song finished and continued mocking them, “which was fine. I started saying ‘go away now, that’s enough, you’ve had your laugh, bye.’ And I really can’t recall how it came to it, but he started getting tetchy … and I said ‘bro, f-off’ and then he said something with the word faggot. And then I swung.” He just saw red. There was an ensuing scrap and when that was cleared up Edwards says the man’s abuse just increased and he wouldn’t leave – and started calling other people faggots. “I just went and sat at the bar.” The police turned up and removed the man. It turned out Edwards had broken his jaw. He was ultimately convicted of injuring by an unlawful act and fined $500. When asked whether he regrets his action, he says “I regret that his jaw was broken. I … I do regret it actually." Edwards says it has been a long legal process. "I didn’t know what was going to happen and I didn’t think they were listening to my side - that I told him to leave us alone.” He says the judge in the case was really fair and sound. “That’s why I only got a fine. Some of the people who get the conviction I got get community service or go to jail.” When it comes to homophobia in bars, he says without “having a gripe” it’s something he commonly faces, deals with and is used to. “Me and my friends will go out and just know somebody is going to say something,” He says generally puts up with it, but in this case thinks he snapped because it was heightened “and the guy just wouldn’t leave us alone”. He says usually it’s like “ok, you’ve had your laugh” and they move on. He stresses that Queenstown is a really open, friendly place. “So if it’s happening in a place like Queenstown, imagine what everybody else is going through, in a place like Gisborne or, you know what I am saying? Must be ten times worse I would say.” Since the case made the news Edwards says he’s had about 30 Facebook messages from strangers who say they understand and have to put up with homophobia every time they go out. “So I guess there is an issue there. But I guess we just accept it and move on. What else do you do?” Read the Otago Daily Times report from court       Jacqui Stanford - 30th August 2014

Credit: Jacqui Stanford

First published: Saturday, 30th August 2014 - 11:10am

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