A small group of fundamentalist protesters, spurred on by the preachings of Destiny Church, attempted to hijack proceedings at Auckland's Big Gay Out festival in Coyle Park today, only to find themselves surrounded by police. The protest started with one man kneeling in front of the stage just after the Prime Minister, Auckland Mayor Dick Hubbard, and MPs Chris Carter and Georgina Beyer had addressed the crowd. He held a sign which read: “Jesus Christ Was Murdered For All Sins – Including Homos”. The protester was initially confronted by the executive director of the New Zealand AIDS Foundation, Rachael LeMesurier, who attempted to calm down the screaming man. She says she told him he was perfectly entitled to his views, but that this perhaps wasn't the wisest place to express them. She later urged the crowd over the PA to ignore the protesters, in a futile effort to hasten their exit from the park. His placards were snatched from him by angry members of the crowd, but he had plenty more in reserve. He proceeded to parade around the ground with his female partner and escorted by police, ranting about procreation and "filthy sodomites". His antics angered and upset gay and lesbian festival-goers, in particular teenagers who seemed to be the most upset by the preaching. He warned that more protesters would soon join him, and a handful of youths soon did. Although they also made placards, observers say they left them in their cars and started circulating amongst the crowd, with some confronting festival-goers and threatening to “bash” them. Gay and lesbian youth spoken to by GayNZ.com, some of whom were newly or recently out, had attended the Big Gay Out as a day of affirmation and positivity about their sexuality, but say the presence of the protesters and their messages of hate had ruined the day for them. Festival organisers say it is the first time in the Big Gay Out's six-year history that there has been any trouble from protesters. Speaking to television news cameras, the original protester claimed he wasn't from Destiny Church, but admired their stance against “the filth that is sodomy in this country”.
Credit: GayNZ.com News Staff
First published: Sunday, 13th February 2005 - 12:00pm
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