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Drink Spiking 'happens to gays too'

Wed 30 Jul 2003 In: Living Well View at NDHA

"Drink spiking isn't just something that happens to straight females, it happens to gay men and women too," Managers of Pound, Wellington's only gay bar, Malcolm and Scott Kennedy-Vaughan are trying to stress to members of the Gay and Lesbian community in a recent interview with UP Newspaper, Wellington's Gay Newspaper. A recent attempt by the Police to make the dangers of drink spiking known to gay and lesbian people across New Zealand may not have been enough, and people need to realise this problem does affect gay men and women. "The term drink spiking refers to situations where a person, regardless of their age, sex or sexuality, is stupefied or incapacitated by drugs without their knowledge and sexually assaulted," the Police say. This is usually achieved by slipping a pill or powder in to a persons' alcohol while they are unaware. The New Zealand Police would not reveal which drugs are used, for obvious reasons, but they did say that apart from incapacitating someone, they are largely not harmful in a long-term respect.  A male patron to Pound, Wellington's only Gay and Lesbian nightclub, was apparently drugged after leaving his drink unattended in the early hours of Sunday 22 June 2003. He awoke on a Wellington side street some time later. He did not want to be named and did not pursue the situation further with Police but his friend contacted UP Newspaper voicing her concerns. One week earlier a 19-year-old gay male, who also wishes to remain anonymous, was rushed to hospital by ambulance from Flesh Nightclub in Auckland after collapsing. He remained unconscious in hospital for four hours. He too was thought to have been drugged although tests were not taken to prove this. "It's a dangerous world out there," Malcolm says. "And while we try our hardest, as venue operators, to keep our visitors safe, people need to be aware that this is an increasing problem that is sometimes right on our front door-step." The Kennedy-Vaughans say staff at their club are trained on drink spiking and know how to react when a patron appears to have possibly been drugged. "They would assess the situation and if there is any doubt, an ambulance would be called." Malcolm and Scotty say they also keep in regular contact with Police who update them on any changes they may need to know about. "Knowledge is power . . . We keep a tight ship here and are constantly congratulated by the Police on being in the Top 10 clubs in Wellington," Malcolm says. He is referring to the fact that when Police have to visit the club, they never find anything illegal or unsatisfactory in regards to drugs, over-intoxicated persons and underagers, among other things. Malcolm and Scotty agree that the best way to counter this growing problem is knowledge. "Always buy your own drinks, avoid sharing drinks, watch your drinks being poured and your can or bottle being opened and keep an eye on your drink at all times, even when dancing." The New Zealand Police say that people should seek help from someone they trust if they start to feel drowsy, or more dizzy than usual while drinking alcohol around strangers. "Dizziness, disinhibition, suggestibility, sensations of drunkenness which do not accord with the amounts of alcohol consumed, unexplained gaps in memory and altered levels of consciousness" are symptoms that someone may have been drugged. If you believe yourself or someone close to you have been victim to drug-assisted assault then contact The New Zealand Police (in emergencies on 111) or The Drug Rape Trust of New Zealand at their website: Andrew Boreham - 30th July 2003    

Credit: Andrew Boreham

First published: Wednesday, 30th July 2003 - 12:00pm

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