Queer the Night

by / May 21, 2012

“THE ONLY VIOLENCE I CONDONE HAS A SAFE WORD”

Crowds marched from the waterfront to Cuba Mall to show their opposition to violence against queer communities in a recent protest.

Over 200 people, many of whom were students, attended the second annual Queer the Night march on Friday 11th May. “We’re opposing all forms of oppression, but in particular we’re challenging homophobic, biphobic and transphobic,” explained Kassie Hartendorp, spokesperson for advocacy group the Queer Avengers who organised the march.

Protestors recited a number of chants, including: “2, 4, 6, 8—don’t be sure your kids are straight!”
Placards were adorned with a range of messages from serious—Don’t stand by while queer kids die—to humorous—The only violence I condone has a safe word.

The first Queer the Night in 2011 was in response to a spate of violent attacks in the capital. This year’s march was in support of Pink Shirt Day, where people are encouraged to wear pink shirts on May 18th to show they oppose homophobic bullying in schools.

A recent [US] study found that young people who do not conform to gender norms are targeted for psychological, physical and emotional abuse which has life-long consequences, including post- traumatic stress disorder.

The event took place in the wake of United States President Barack Obama’s personal endorsement of equal marriage rights for same-sex couples.

Some students capitalised on the prominence of the issue in the media and used the march to encourage a push for marriage equality in New Zealand at the march.

“A stranger on Cuba Street hugged me when I handed him a marriage equality flier. The support was fantastic,” said Victoria University student Angus.

The flyers urged people to go to a new website—marriageequality.co.nz—where they could send a message to Prime Minister John Key urging him to support marriage equality.

Key’s initial response to Obama’s announcement had been that he did not think there was any “clamour” for law change in New Zealand. He has since changed his rhetoric around the issue, saying he wants “debate”.

Both the Labour Party and the Green Party had full legal equality for same-sex couples as policies for the 2011 General Election.

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