Politician defends son accused of homophobia

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A leading New Zealand official is fighting back after a gay website published a story about his son earlier this week.

The article, which appeared yesterday on GayNZ.com, alleges the son of New Zealand National Party deputy leader Bill English has been posting homophobic comments to a popular social networking website over the past few months.

A sample comment from the site, made in reference to a recent soccer match, mentioned in the GayNZ.com article: “Some college fags are gonna to get stabbed with katanas.”

A katana is a type of Japanese longsword.

Mr English has responded by calling the article a “disgusting and sick attack,” according to the New Zealand Herald.

“I expect any statement I make to be scrutinised,” he added.

“No one expects the same scrutiny of every comment by anyone on an open teenage social networking site.”

Mr English, who did not deny his son’s involvement in the postings, told reporters he is seeking legal advice on the “unsubstantiated claims about the supposed views” held by his son.

In a rebuttal editorial posted to the site today, GayNZ.com editor Jay Bennie wrote that he and his staff debated whether or not they should single out Mr English’s son.

“One view is that this kid is not the only one out there penning this poisonous stuff and that just because his father is a political leader of major significance makes it unfair to single him out.

“The inference of that being to leave it alone, find another way to present the issue,” Bennie wrote in the editorial.

“The other view is that children are largely a product of home environment and that as a high-calibre politician we expect Bill English to raise his family with positive values, especially when he pushes ‘family values’ as part of his political and personal ethos,” he added.

“A father’s status should not necessarily give anyone carte blanche to spread venomous views without being taken to task.”

In the end, Bennie and GayNZ.com ran the story, and doesn’t regret doing so.

“We hope that some people sit up and take notice of this issue, that some kind of genuine apology is offered, and that somewhere a few people, perhaps amongst the thousand or so who have viewed this evil homophobic posturing think twice about its consequences and what it says about a sector of New Zealand society, even in the best, most advantaged and educated families,” he wrote.

Bryan Ochalla © 2007 GayWired.com; All Rights Reserved.