Two women who were threatened with eviction from a public cricket ground after kissing each other may have grounds for a complaint under the Human Rights Act. The women were approached by a security guard at McLean Park in Napier after their kiss was broadcast on the big-screen monitor to a cheering crowd. The guard told the women they could be thrown out if they kissed again. But Human Rights Commissioner Warren Lindberg says that under the Human Rights Act, no one can be refused access to or required to leave a public place due to their sexual orientation or sex. The fact that the two women involved in the incident were heterosexual has no bearing on whether or not they can complain. "If the two women felt that the treatment they received at the Napier cricket match was due to their sexual orientation or a perception of their sexual orientation then they could make a complaint to the Commission," Lindberg told GayNZ.com. "If we received a complaint we would consider the specific circumstances of the case before determining whether or not we would offer a disputes resolution process or mediation to help resolve the issue." Following the incident in Napier, Westpac Stadium Trust chief executive David Gray told the Dominion Post that if similar behaviour were to occur in Wellington, security would be instructed to intervene as a matter of policy. Lindberg says it is difficult to speculate on whether the Wellington stadium's policy is discriminatory, because it is unclear from Gray's reported comments what he regards as "similar" behaviour. "In general, those responsible for managing public events are entitled to determine what behaviour is acceptable at those events providing their policy is implemented even-handedly and complies with the Human Rights Act," says Lindberg. If the Human Rights Commission received a complaint alleging that same-sex couples were being discriminated against as a matter of policy, it would be investigated. "We would consider all the circumstances of the case in order to determine whether we would offer a disputes resolution process," Lindberg says. However: "The Commission does not however make decisions on whether or not a breach of the Human Rights Act took place." Gay Wellington cricket fan Paul Brown says Gray's comments are completely backward. "That's pretty disgusting that someone would actually come out and say, this can't happen in our grounds in New Zealand. Where do they think we are?" he says. "It wouldn't stop me from going to the cricket. And if I took my partner to the cricket, I'd kiss him if I wanted to. It wouldn't stop me." Brown is president of glbt support group UniQ at Victoria University. UniQ is calling on Westpac to reconsider their sponsorship of the stadium following Gray's comments, because they believe the stadium to be in breach of the bank's sponsorship guidelines. Two of the key considerations listed by Westpac for sponsorship include that it "reflects the diverse nature of our country" and "is accessible to all New Zealanders". UniQ is encouraging all who agree with them to contact Westpac's Sponsorship Manager, Kate Kristiansen, and voice their opinion. GayNZ.com attempted to contact David Gray through the Westpac Stadium Trust offices to clarify whether his comments about "similar" behaviour applied to all kisses, or just those between people of the same sex. Our call and email were not answered. Gray told the Dominion that kisses between women would not be shown on the big-screen monitor because "at a family stadium it's not appropriate".
Credit: GayNZ.com News Staff
First published: Wednesday, 11th January 2006 - 12:00pm
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