Manager of gay bar injured in attack

COLLETTE DEVLIN
Last updated 05:00 28/08/2014
CAMERON BURNELL/Dominion Post

Steve Mawhinney manager of gay bar Ivy was beaten in a homophobic attack.

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A Wellington bar manager was left with head injuries after being attacked by a group of drinkers who appeared shocked at realising they were in a gay bar.

The group, who were in Ivy Bar and Cabaret in Cuba St about 10pm last Friday, "freaked out" after noticing the club was full of gay customers, manager Steven Mawhinney said yesterday.

"As they were leaving, they screamed: This is a f...... gay bar, you're f...... gay and other profanities," Mawhinney said.

They allegedly screamed homophobic slurs at patrons on their way out, and hurled a can of alcohol at two customers entering the bar. Mawhinney asked them to move away from the entrance but they got "nasty and vicious" towards the two customers.

"One of the group charged at the customers behind me, and I drove him and one of the others out of the entrance.

"Then fists started swinging."

Mawhinney said he was hit about eight times near his eye, cheekbone, jaw and on the back of his head.

It was the worst homophobic abuse he had faced in the 14 years he had been out, and in the 18 months the bar had been open.

"I have never experienced this type of hatred in my entire life," Mawhinney said.

Out in the Park organisers will host an event at the Ivy bar tomorrow night to support Mawhinney and to make a stand against homophobia.

"We are not going to let these sorts of people dictate our lives and change the way we live because they think it's wrong," Mawhinney said.

The Human Rights Commission condemned the attack.

Commissioner Richard Tankersley said New Zealand's excellent human rights record meant little if some New Zealanders were still attacked because of who they were. "We value our freedom in New Zealand and that includes being able to live our lives free from fear.

"While it's good that the staff and patrons stood up for themselves, they shouldn't have had to in the first place."

Police arrested a 23-year-old man on the night of the incident and charged him with two counts of common assault.

He was released on bail and is due to appear in the Wellington District Court tomorrow.

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