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Anti-gay vandals' guerilla-style electioneering

Thu 18 Aug 2005 In: Features

The hoardings of heterosexual Labour MPs are being targeted with spraypainted anti-gay abuse, but religious opponents are having problems of their own. For the second time in two weeks, gay Labour MP and Cabinet Minister Chris Carter has had his electorate hoardings defaced with print-out "morals" slogans. reported less than a fortnight ago that three of Carter's hoardings in his West Auckland electorate of Te Atatu had been defaced, his face plastered over with a computer-printed sheet of slogans in capital letters, including “SAME SEX MARRIAGE” and “FILTH ON TELEVISION”. The latest plastering, in identical style, asks the question: “DO YOU REALLY WANT THIS MAN DETERMINING MORAL VALUES FOR YOUR KIDS?” There appears to be no concerted effort at this year's election to target openly gay MPs hoardings with personal abuse, though. Christchurch Central MP Tim Barnett says he hasn't experienced any defacings at all this year, although oddly, his married heterosexual Labour colleague standing in the nearby electorate of Ilam (National deputy leader Gerry Brownlee's stomping ground) has had his hoardings defaced with someone spraypainting “GAY” on them. “Perhaps these people don't know who the gay MPs are or what we look like,” Barnett laughs. West Auckland homophobes would seem to be similarly confused. Labour MP David Cunliffe in New Lynn – which adjoins Carter's Te Atatu electorate – has had anti-gay abuse spraypainted across his hoardings. The defacings in New Lynn and Te Atatu occurred within days of both a rally held by Destiny Church's Brian Tamaki at the Trusts Stadium in West Auckland, and to Destiny's political party erecting its own election hoardings in the area. However, there is no evidence linking the Destiny party to the defacings, whose hoardings also haven't managed to escape the election campaign unscathed. Destiny party leader Richard Lewis found one of his hoardings close to Western Springs in central Auckland recently spraypainted with the phrase “FREE GRAHAM CAPILL”. Convicted child rapist Capill's former party Christian Heritage, meanwhile, have continued their former leader's anti-gay stance by simply publicly attacking gay National Party candidate Chris Finlayson. According to party leader Ewen McQueen, Finlayson's open homosexuality is proof that National is not a standard bearer for Christian/‘family values'. But in Christchurch Central, religious and social conservatives seem to be having trouble even keeping candidates in play, let alone preaching from the pulpit. Destiny New Zealand announced in a flurry of publicity last year that it was to stand a candidate against Tim Barnett in an attempt to return the electorate to “family values”. understands this candidate has now left the party after a falling out with the hierarchy. Conservative-leaning ACT candidate Andrew Poulsen also withdrew from the race under mysterious circumstances in mid-June, only four days after his standing was announced. Citing personal reasons and an unspecified incident in the early 1990s which he said he was not proud of, Poulsen assured reporters that no charges had been laid. He said he couldn't elaborate further out of respect for the other party involved. Despite the odd hoarding vandal, and the odd pot/kettle/black announcement from religious party leaders, Barnett says he doesn't believe issues like civil unions, which have been classified as "moral" only by religious conservatives, are figuring large in the minds of the voting public. Chris Banks - 18th August 2005    

Credit: Chris Banks

First published: Thursday, 18th August 2005 - 12:00pm

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