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"Impossible" to murder a homosexual

Sun 19 Sep 2004 In: New Zealand Daily News

Acclaimed author Peter Wells has reflected on the disturbing elements of New Zealand's prejudice toward gays thrown up by the David McNee trial in an eloquent article in this week's NZ Listener. "Listening to a dead person being made responsible for their own violent death is an odd sensation. You can't help but want to yell out," writes Wells, noting that the stage was set early on with the media picture of an interior decorator with an "out of control" sexual appetite vs. a poor, young, homeless Maori man. "It is impossible in New Zealand – and many other countries – to murder a homosexual. It is possible to be found guilty of manslaughter. The underlying message is that any homosexual's life is of little value...when the verdict was finally brought in the McNee murder trial, there were no interviews with his tearful relations. There was, instead, a sympathetic interview with the grandmother of the man who had just been found guilty of manslaughter...Of McNee's relations, friends or lovers we heard nothing." "Cases like this expose an appalling seam of prejudice. During the court case, I felt I lived in a foreign country whose justice I could not comprehend. I did not particularly like McNee or what he stood for. But I also couldn't comprehend how his behaviour could be a justifiable reason for such a revolting and violent killing – or a rationale for such a killing to be downclassed from murder to manslaughter. It evoked in me a sense that homosexuals living in New Zealand were still second-class citizens – "almost" humans, who would never get full human rights."    

Credit: News Staff

First published: Sunday, 19th September 2004 - 12:00pm

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