Aotearoa called out for hate and bullying toward LGBTIQ people

5:36 pm on 24 April 2019

Fifty takatāpui and LGBTIQ people have signed an open letter calling for an end to hatred and abuse towards their communities.

Laura O’Connell Rapira, the campaign director for Rock Enrol

Actionstation director Laura O'Connell Rapira has co-written a letter to Aotearoa about its hate problem. Photo: Supplied

The letter comes a fortnight after controversial Australian rugby player Israel Folau made headlines for condemning homosexuals on social media.

Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki later warned there would be war if any part of the Bible, including homophobia, was considered hate speech.

The letter has been posted on Waikato University Associate Professor Leonie Pihama's blog.

It begins: "Dear Aotearoa, We write this letter to voice our profound concern at the hatred and abusive bullying that continues to be targeted at Takatāpui and LGBTIQ people in Aotearoa New Zealand."

ActionStation director Laura O'Connell Rapira said the comments made by Israel Folau and Brian Tamaki compelled her and Leonie Pihama to pen the letter.

 Dr Leonie Pihama, Director of Te Kotahi Research Institute at the University of Waikato.

Dr Leonie Pihama. Photo: Te Kotahi Research Institute

"In the past few weeks, we have seen a rise of continued homophobic and transphobic attacks on our communities," she said. "We should not have to and will not tolerate this kind of abuse."

The letter calls for New Zealanders to stand against homophobia and transphobia, and has been signed by fifty people who identify as takatāpui or LGBTIQ.

"We wanted to show solidarity, visibility and aroha to younger takatāpui and LBT people out there who might be hearing these comments and doubting their identity and feeling bullied and stink and hateful of themselves.

"To say there is a bunch of us here and we are queer and we are proud of that and we work across a wide range of different professions... let younger people know that it gets better and that there are people out there who love you."

Dr Leonie Pihama said they have had to put up with homophobic and transphobic abuse for far too long and she hopes the letter will encourage New Zealanders to oppose those views.

"We need allies to stand with us and to stop that," she said.

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