Gay and lesbian support groups are shocked that the son of a high ranking New Zealand politician has been discovered apparently posting and hosting extreme homophobic and other abuse on a public website, and continues to do so with his father's knowledge.
Within the past week, the page has been updated to reference a soccer match with the words "some college fags are gonna to get stabbed with katanas [Japanese fighting swords] - which he believes is "excellent."
The profile also links to a page which idolises homophobic American rapper 50 Cent and states "hu ever goes ther [apparently Wellington College] is a col fag hu evas goin 2 go ther will be turned extrmely homosexual by the outstanding number of men and young boys and well dont go 2 coll... if u r thinking of goin 2 coll..u will extremley homosexual but also be coll fagerized," and "coll and scots have combined "all boys" dances, where ur ticket in is a condom."
GayNZ.com became aware of these and similar homophobic and misogynist postings on the Bebo webpage three weeks ago, through readers' concerned emails to us. We referred the webpages to Bill English and his office for comment. Although we emailed English specifically asking if the profile page was the work of his son, no denial has been received. After numerous but fruitless attempts to discuss the posted statements and the values taught in the English household with Mr English or his spokesperson we were eventually curtly told that there would be "no comment" forthcoming, although awareness of the slurs and that they appear to have been genuinely placed by the teenager was tacitly confirmed.
Since that time, the original abuse has remained on view and even more homophobic comments have been publicly posted on the profile page. The page's content shows it is regularly visited by its creator. At any time the page could have been deleted or the comments edited.
During the anti-smacking bill debate, Bill English went on record as saying that he is "totally responsible for [his] children's physical and moral welfare," and that children need parental direction.
Spokespeople for groups working with gay and lesbian youth and the parents of gays and lesbians say such homophobic sentiments permeating the internet help to stigmatise and marginalise LGBT youth.
Invercargill-based facilitator of the Southland Gay and Lesbian Support group, Robyn Flowers, described the public postings as "revolting." She says such attitudes are all too common amongst Southlangd youth "and I am sick of it."
Flowers says she feels "ashamed that that abuse has been put out there" by a Southlander and feels it shows how much further her community has to go in accepting people's differences. "We as a community are slandered by that sort of attitude, she says, calling the comments at best "incredibly judgmental."
Linda Farr of Rainbow Youth says it is very sad to hear this prime example of homophobia from a young person. "Our young gay and lesbian people are so vulnerable," she says, especially those who are isolated in smaller centres.
"Sometimes the internet is their only form of communication or contact - and if this is all they get, then it's going to be really difficult." Farr questions what New Zealand is in for if English's party becomes the government at the next election. She says she intends to take the matter up directly with English.
Robyn Flowers says her advice to Bill English as a parent is to "have a conscience about it." She says any parent with a genuine conscience about this kind of abuse will "question it and its implications." She also questions how English can allow this attitude to exist in his family when he says he promotes Christian values. English and his wife are known to be devout Catholics.
The revelation of the homophobic abuse on the English family member's webpage comes as the Schools Secretary of the UK Government is urging schools in that country to take further action against cyberbullying and homophobic insults. A UK teachers' union survey found that 70% of teachers had heard children in their schools using homophobic language.
Statements on the Bebo profile page include:
"Anybody who's emo is a faggot, especially if they have a uterus"
"Quite frankly, you're all a bunch of skinny, white whiney faggots who are constantly complaining about how much pain you are suffering."
"Conclusive scientific evidence suggests that emos are more hated than both blacks and Jews combined, and for goods reason too.
"First ever win against the 6th form geeks. Into the regional competition where some coll fags are gonna get stabbed with katanas [Japanese fighting swords]. Excellent."
"All these [emo] bands starting being famous because, and only beacuse, they began feeding a fucking gay trend known as "Emo Life. Gay Fuckers."
"...Is that they wear the same things. Have weird people walking round doing odd poses. And they suck dick."
"notice how panic at the disco music clips are exactly the same niggas."
Links to the profile and GayNZ.com's story on the UK call to address cyberhomophobia are provided below.
[Ed Note: The Bebbo profile webpage has become "private" since this story hit mainstream media and is no longer available for public viewing.]