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'Gay jibes' employer denies he's anti-gay

Fri 29 Aug 2008 In: New Zealand Daily News View at Wayback

The boss of a Ponsonby publishing company - who must pay a gay ex-employee $7,000 after a complaint to the Employment Relations Authority - says he's not homophobic, and is upset about being portrayed as anti-gay in media reports of the case. According to a story released by the NZ Press Association today, Sean Mitchell had taunted Jason Cunningham about being gay, and copied his mannerisms around the office. "I've got no problem with people reading the story, that's fine, but the whole embarrassing thing is that I'm actually not a homophobe and they make it sound like I'm being nasty," says Mitchell, who contacted "The only thing that happened was that he [Cunningham] was in the office and I said 'can you pull your pants up, we can see your butt-crack'," he explains. "That was the only comment I ever made to the guy. And it's got nothing to do with his being gay." Mitchell thinks a homophobic aspect to the story was highlighted to make a "sensational headline" for the newspaper, and says that since the article appeared online at midday today, he's been inundated with angry calls. "All day I've had hundreds of nasty emails from gay people saying 'you're an arsehole' and other abuse. I've had calls on my mobile, calls to the office with people telling my staff members 'you work for a nasty pig.' It's disgusting." Mitchell says he has done some work as a volunteer for a gay newspaper in the past, and has long been supportive of the gay community. He has rung around newsrooms to ask for the story to be corrected, and apologised to Cunningham. "I am happy to talk to anyone to show that I am not homophobic in the slightest. That's the only part of the story that I find personally upsetting," Mitchell says.    

Credit: News Staff

First published: Friday, 29th August 2008 - 5:19pm

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