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Ten of the Worst - 2007 edition

Sun 30 Dec 2007 In: Community View at NDHA

In an end of year ritual as regular as the Queen's Christmas message and trifle overload, looks back over the past twelve months and highlights ten of the best and ten of the worst people, organisations and events that affected glbt people and our communities. On New Year's Day we'll announce our 'New Year's honours,' but first let's plunge deeply into 2007's morass of Ten of the Worst ugliness, which features four MPs, one ex MP now Mayor, a free-range rooter's paradise, a conman, several opportunists and a dinosaur. HON. BILL ENGLISH MP Awarded for hypocrisy and bullying. In a remarkable display of parental irresponsibility Nat party deputy leader English chose to ignore repeated notice and gay community concern that his son was publicly posting homophobic abuse on the internet. Instead, when the general media started running the story English attacked the initial gay messenger, in this case, thundering that there was no evidence that his son was responsible, that some of what was posted was copied from other sources and therefore shouldn't be taken seriously and that he was calling in his defamation lawyers. Strangely, the violently anti-gay Bebo profile disappeared within minutes of TV3, TVNZ, the Dom Post and the Southland Times contacting English. Eventually he 'fessed up that his son was indeed responsible, but offered no apology to gays and lesbians who might have been offended or distressed by the toxic homophobia. And despite the passage of  many months we haven't heard a single word from his lawyers. All this from the man who on a previous occasion made much of how he takes responsibility for the morals of his family. Daily News: English admits son posted "offensive" abuse THE SOCIETY FOR THE PROTECTION OF COMMUNITY STANDARDS Awarded for efforts to drag NZ back into the dark ages and beyond. By rights, when dear old Pat Bartlett went to meet her maker the lumbering old dinosaur that was her SPCS should have joined her. But it totters on, a group of hissyfitting sads who again and again aim their cantankerous barbs at, particularly, gay Chief Censor Bill Hastings. Hardly a week seems to go by that they don't rage against the apparent evils of homosexuality, the gay media... and Bill Hastings, Bill Hastings, Bill Hastings, Bill Hastings - who is corrupting us all as he relentlessly pursues the nation-destroying 'gay agenda.' Sigh. ASHLEY ARNOPP AND ANDRE GILLING Awarded in connection with the gruesome killing of Stanley Waipouri. We have to be a little careful what we say here, as the case has not concluded in court. But gay Palmy man Stanley Waipouri was found mutilated and dead and Arnopp and Gilling were still on the premises, amongst the blood and gore. The homophobic killing occurred on Dec 23, 2006, technically last year but the actual details of the appalling death emerged this year. Arnopp finally pleaded guilty to killing his "friend", but a jury couldn't reach a decision on Gilling's culpability. Whatever the eventual legal outcome and whatever their individual levels of complicity in the brutal death of Stan Waipouri, Arnopp and Gilling cannot be left off this list. Daily News: Waipouri murder: New trial in mid-2008   GORDON COPELAND MP Awarded for sheer callousness. In some ways it's tempting to feel sorry for a man who was sooo publicly used and abused by the amateurish Destiny Church political machine, but... In late October when the Law Commission recommended the Government strike off the legal provision that our community calls the 'gay panic defense' (whereby being merely propositioned by a - yuk! shudder! - homosexual is enough to downgrade an otherwise prima facie murder conviction) Copeland reckoned it didn't happen enough to worry about. "Two battered women, and two men after unwelcome homosexual advances, and suddenly [the Commission] wants it out," he piously and callously moaned, not even explaining how he came up with his two and two figures. Smacks of that old conservative Christian argument that argues gays don't constitute a big enough proportion of the population to be taken into account in lawmaking or liberalisation. After all its only a few 'godless perverts' that can't get married, or couldn't legalise their relationships or keep their jobs or accommodation, or are getting slaughtered on a regular basis, isn't it Gordon. Daily News: Gay Panic Defence "justifiable" - MP MARTIN VAN DER REIT Awarded for destroying the Auckland Pride Centre. Having fled South Africa, van der Reit sunk his teeth into the vulnerable Pride Centre, seeking to use it as some kind of a platform for a residency application and repeatedly using it as his own personal bank. Along the way he destabilised Wellington's UP publication, shattered the lives of Pride Centre trustees, tried to pervert the course of justice and tried to blame the trustees for his own fraudulent behaviour. $30,000 disappeared, funders held back and the Pride Centre never recovered. Van der Reit is currently serving a thirty month prison sentence and surely must then be on his way back to the Cape. Will anyone shed tears? Daily News: 30 months' jail for Pride Centre fraudster TARIANA TURIA AND HER 'WORMTONGUE' Awarded for playing racial politics with people's lives. It's not exactly clear who whispered in Maori Party co-leader Turia's ear that Maori are facing a cataclysmic HIV blowout and the NZAF doesn't give a damn, but we've got a fairly good idea. Without thinking twice, without checking actual facts, and playing to her natural constituency Turia fired off a shrill press release stating "I have advised the Minister of Health some two months ago, about concerns reported to me, that the needs of Maori living with HIV, HIV positive women, migrant and refugees were being neglected in favour of white gay men." Within minutes the AIDS Foundation responded with research, epidemiological data and a summary of their work with and amongst at-risk Maori, women and recent immigrants. Turia, who is not generally homophobic, suddenly went very, very quiet. Message to Tariana: By far the bulk of those becoming infected with, and living with, deadly HIV are middle-aged white gay men. You fell headlong into someone else's agenda. You let yourself be used. "Gay white male NZAF ignores Maori" JUDITH COLLINS MP Awarded for 'dog whistling' glbt people. Known in some circles as the Rosemary McLeod of Parliament, Judith Collins MP (yes, yet another MP makes the list) rushed to the press gallery to denounce the Ministry of Social Development for employing Edward Cowley, better known as his extravagant drag alter ego Buckwheat, as a limited contract motivational trainer. Although she primarily complained that there must have been someone on the ministry's existing staff who could have filled that role, Collins' history of sideswipes at glbt people, and her specific mention of uber-gay Cowley/Buckwheat, fooled no one about whom and what she was really targeting. For the record, the ministry said it would be happy to have Cowley back. MP Collins questions Buckwheat's new role JOHN BANKS Awarded for denying the obvious - again. In front of a room full of glbt people for the GABA Mayoral Forum in the lead-up to the Auckland mayoralty elections, Banks was questioned by whether his touting for the glbt vote wasn't hypocritical given his string of anti-gay rhetoric since his last attempt to ride into the mayoral office with the assistance of the glbt vote. Given actual examples, Banks crisply stated to the audience that there was "no evidence" he used such rhetoric between forums. But he went a bit quiet and disconnected for the rest of the meeting. And of course immediately published our verbatim evidence of his venomous statements, dated and timed. For the record, he won the election. Banks denies voicing anti-gay rhetoric THE OWNERS OF THE PINK DOLLAR BAR Awarded for staggering opportunism. Like the snake oil peddlers of the old American west, these straight folks rode into town figuring there was an easy buck to be made out of the gay community. They re-opened a slightly tatty bar in way off the beaten track downtown Auckland, somehow roped in gracious entertainer Ramon Te Wake to work her contacts, blatantly called the outfit The Pink Dollar and expected the cash to roll in. GLBT people aren't stupid and stayed away in droves. Within a few months the doors were shut, the phone disconnected and bills returned unopened. NZ DATING Awarded for basically not caring. Sure, this mega-dating website has started to show a little interest in the health of their gay clientele who run the risk of contracting HIV unless they are kept aware of the need for safe sex practices and alerted to their vulnerability, but it's too little too late to escape this list. NZ Dating, which seems to want us all to believe that its clientele are merely looking for shared interests, romantic dinners and walks on the beach, also seemed to think that draining the NZAF of vast amounts of scarce cash for showing neutered advertising messages, and providing a tiny little link to the NZAF website under the heading of 'Your Wellbeing' or some similarly fatuous wording, was enough. It isn't enough, and the site's failure to yet clearly get real and actively help save lives earns it a place in this list. Memo to NZ Dating: One of the 'shared interests' sadly beloved by too many ignorant or irresponsible men who hook up on the net is bareback sex. staff - 30th December 2007

Credit: staff

First published: Sunday, 30th December 2007 - 2:55pm

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