The US ambassador to New Zealand has condemned the bashing of an Auckland teenager bringing global attention to the apparent homophobic attack.
Zakk d'Larte, 18, was knocked unconscious and left lying in a gutter after being attacked by three men near Westhaven at 7pm on Saturday.
On Wednesday US ambassador David Huebner tweeted that the attack was "unacceptable".
"It's 2012. Not acceptable. Gay teen was called disgusting before being beaten unconscious," he wrote.
Blogger Michael Petrelis, who brought the assault to Huebner's attention, is now trying to bring together the ambassador and the people behind the recently launched pro-gay rights campaign WTF.
D'Larte uploaded a photo of his injuries to Facebook to draw attention to homophobia and as a reminder to the gay community to be safety conscious.
He has since laid a complaint with police who will be looking at CCTV footage from the area.
Television presenter and model Colin Mathura-Jeffree, who is part of the WTF campaign, commented on d'Larte's Facebook fan page about the incident.
"I'd love to find them.... they're out there... 3 against 1.... how tough they must feel... yeah real men... I'm glad you're safe Zakk," he posted.
D'Larte believes his attackers initially thought from a distance he was female and wolf-whistled at him and called him "sweetie", before getting closer and realising he was a male.
The men then started making hateful, anti-gay remarks.
"They just started saying I was a burden to society and they wished they could do to the gays what Hitler did to the Jews, and that sort of thing."
The men punched him to the ground and D'Larte believes they continued to beat him after he was unconscious.
When D'Larte woke he was in a gutter, bleeding, and in a confused state.
Since his attack, D'Larte said another friend had been the victim of homophobic taunts after being approached in Albert Park by a large group of men who called him derogatory names and threatened to stab him.
D'Larte said his friend got away unscathed but maintained that both incidents are a reminder for people to look out for themselves in the city centre.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Do you have an idea for a story? Email us or give us a call on 09 925 9700.