School denies pupil bringing boy to ball

SHABNAM DASTGHEIB
Last updated 11:45 14/06/2011
pats std
ANDREW GORRIE/Dominion Post
DISAPPOINTED: Malcolm Pimentel from St Patrick's College, who has been told he will not be allowed to attend the school ball this weekend if he wants to bring another boy as his date.
Keith Fredrick Labad and Malcolm Pimentel
Facebook
Keith Fredrick Labad (left) and Malcolm Pimentel.

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A pupil at St Patrick's College in Wellington has been told he will not be allowed to attend the school ball this weekend if he wants to bring another boy as his date.

Malcolm Pimentel was told he would not be allowed to bring friend and former St Patrick's Town pupil Keith Fredrick Labad as his date by Father Paul Martin, the school's rector.

Keith said he wanted to go to the event as a friend. The two have set up a Facebook event which so far has more than 2100 people attending.

Keith said the purpose of the page was to have all those who were in support of the cause to fight discrimination and share ideas.

''I am a Catholic. I just also happen to be queer. We are not taking shots at religion, but rather, we're trying to claim what we deserve as humans and that is our right. This is not an attack on our school or religion,'' he said on the Facebook page.

St Pat's prefect Zubin D'Sousa said on the Facebook page that he fully supported his friends' fight to go to the ball together.

''While this may be against a supposed teaching of the school and the Catholic institution, as intelligent beings we need to consider and question rather than accept blindly.''

Fr Martin said the school had a policy in place that did not allow ''old boys'' or boys from other schools to attend school functions.

''It's a management issue. When you have boys from other schools or former students, you can have tensions between the students. Balls are complicated enough without adding another dimension.''

Fr Martin said he had not had a chance to speak to Malcolm yet as he was not at school today.

Human Rights Commission spokesman Gilbert Wong said he was aware of the situation, which was common during ball
season, though the commission had not received an official complaint yet.

If the commission received a complaint that a person had been excluded from attending the ball because they wanted to attend with a partner of the same-sex, this could raise questions of possible unlawful discrimination under the Human Rights Act, he said.

The courts would have to decide on unlawfulness but the commission would work to mediate between the school and affected students.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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