'Gay red shirt' protests against Prime Minister's slur

National protest for Gay Red Shirt Day

MATHEW GROCOTT
Last updated 14:36 09/11/2012
Red shirt
David Unwin/Fairfax NZ
NOT OK: A dozen Palmerston North people met in The Square today to oppose Prime Minister John Key’s use of the word gay to mean weird.

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People wearing red is not normally an unusual site in The Square, though there was a higher proportion than usual today.

About a dozen people wearing red met in front of the clock tower at lunch time for Gay Red Shirt Day, a national protest against recent remarks by Prime Minister John Key.

Earlier this month Mr Key appeared on radio's The Farming Show where he told host Jamie Mackay he had no chance of winning a golf tournament later that day.

''You're munted mate, you're never gonna make it, you've got that gay red top on there,'' the Prime Minister said.

Rachael Hanson said those who gathered in The Square today were sending a message Mr Key's use of the word was not acceptable.

''We (are here because we) don't think it's OK for people to be using the word gay in a derogatory way and to remind us all to be mindful of our words. Words have power and they can hurt.''

After Mr Key made his red shirt comment a Facebook group was set up to organise today's protest nationally. The comment has also drawn criticism and jokes on Twitter and opposition MPs have worn red to parliament.

Lord of the Rings star Sir Ian McKellen also rebuked the Prime Minister for his choice of words in a video he posted online.
On Monday Mr Key said he had used the word gay as a synonym for weird.

The radio show was a time where he was being jocular and having fun, he said. At other times he was more serious.

''I'm often at events when they're quite light-hearted social events when people would want me to kid around.''

That was the nature of being prime minister, he said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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