In the last weekend of Auckland Pride Month,  local drag queen Kourtney Khaos (Ray Gardiner) and his partner Tyler  Vodanovich-Trott, were left lying in a ‘pool of blood’ after being attacked by a group of five men, in what is believed to have been a homophobic attack.

“We were dressed up in the most fabulous outfits and went out and enjoyed ourselves,” said Gardiner, who was out with his partner in central Auckland celebrating with his community.

However, when the pair began walking down a “dark” side street, a group of men in a vehicle started yelling homophobic comments including “faggots” and “homos” out the window.

Gardiner alleges that when they asked the men to leave them alone, they instead got out of their vehicle and one of them swung at his partner, then when he screamed at them to get away from his partner, they turned towards him.

“One of them hit me in the face. I was in high heels, so I crumpled to the ground. All of them started kicking, punching and stomping on me and wouldn’t stop.” Gardiner said, adding that at this point blood ran into his eyes and he was unable to breathe properly.

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“I could hear my partner begging them to stop.”

The attack, Gardiner claims, only ended when residents of a neighbouring apartment building nearby came out, though he had passed out before this and woke up “lying in a pool of my own blood”.

During the assault, Gardiner sustained a broken nose and severe concussion.

“I don’t really see why people get the right to punish someone for being who they are and happy with who they are,” said Gardiner.

“To hurt us just because we are gay and in such a violent way is disgusting” said Vodanovich-Trott, adding that the assault demonstrated that people  still “have hatred and misunderstanding in their hearts and do horrible things like this”.

Detective Senior Sergeant Scott Armstrong, of the Auckland city crime squad, said police were investigating the assault, confirming they were called to the scene just after 4am on Saturday.

“Our inquiries remain ongoing at this point and part of this involves analysing security camera footage from the area,” he said.

“Police would like to reassure the community that we are taking this incident seriously and we do not tolerate this sort of act.”

In February 2019, journalist Aziz Al-Sa’afin and his friend were similarly attacked during the Auckland Pride festival. The man who was arrested for the attack said he was “offended” by the sight of the gay men.

 

If you feel distressed reading the story, you can reach out to support services.

For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14

For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

 

 

 

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