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Saturday 10 October 2009

Tamihere stirs anti-gay hate over HIV accused

Posted in: Features
By Matt Akersten - 17th June 2009

John Tamihere
Talkback host John Tamihere has again angered gay radio listeners, this time with an erratic and error-ridden commentary on the 40-year-old man accused of infecting several people with HIV, but his employers refuse to comment on the matter.

Tamihere and his Radio Live in-studio guest, high-profile Auckland restaurateur Leo Molloy, spoke about the case frequently during yesterday (16 June) afternoon's three-hour show, following reports that the man's name had again been suppressed in the District Court.

A variety of news reports in gay and mainstream media had stated that the accused man did not get released on bail, yet Tamihere, who believed he was the only broadcaster speaking out on the story, said several times that he had been granted bail, and demanded the judge in question be sacked.

"I was just driving to work today and I heard that on the radio and I just thought 'I've had a guts full of this', you know? It just slides past and everybody says 'that's what homos do so it's OK'. Well it's not OK," he said.

"The point here is that no one else wants to discuss it but there's no doubt that HIV will spread when, it's obviously hugely, promiscuity is huge, isn't it?" Molloy responded: "Amongst that type of person."


During the programme, Tamihere frequently came back to the topic, telling his listeners: "He shouldn't have name suppression. Why is it? Why is it that if you're gay in this country, you get a totally different deal? Why is it if you're a male heterosexual, OK, and you got up to this conduct, OK you'd be on the front pages. Surely you'd be on the front pages of everything. I can't believe these judges on suppression orders.

"The only talkback show you'll ever have discussing this is this one here," he persisted. "All the wankers on the other side are too politically correct to do anything. And here's the other thing: mainstream media won't go near it either."

A number of listeners called to agree with the hosts, describing gay people as "bummers" and "homos" who "treat their bodies like fairgrounds". One caller said "All homosexual people should be given the bash". Tamihere cut that caller off, but Molloy then invited him to call back and "have his say".

Another caller said: "With the homos, what they do… I dunno if you saw 60 Minutes last night but they had a couple of homos on there that were adopting children from India. It's not right, really. It's not natural."

GAY LISTENERS RESPOND received a number of complaint calls and emails about the talkback show yesterday, including one young gay man who told us: "We had it on at work, but I had to ask my boss to switch it off because I got so upset and angry."

Lesley Belcham, General Manager of LGBT support service OUTLine NZ, says she's had a huge number of callers about the accused HIV+ man, and was alarmed over Tamihere and Molloy's "outrageous homophobic stereotypical remarks" yesterday.

"Irrespective of who calls in, the damage is done," says Belcham. "At OUTLine we work to support gay, lesbian, transgender and takataapui people to come to terms with their sexuality and gender and to do so in a positive and affirming manner. While we acknowledge that Tamihere, Molloy and the callers have the right to their own views, we do have to wonder where these views come from.

"We ask them to take the time to see how this type of language can make a gay or lesbian person feel particularly if they are trying to come to a point of self-acceptance."

"Gay and lesbian people of all ages are surrounded by this type of language and cannot help but to internalize this type of homophobia," she added. "We should all be aware that any one of us could have a family member who may be trying to come to terms with their sexual orientation or gender identity and these views are harmful to their emotional well being."

Outline NZ takes up to 5,000 calls a year from gay and lesbian people and assists them, their families and whanau to work through the process of self acceptance. "This type of radio talk back incites hatred and bullying and can only make our job more difficult," believes Belcham.

"While we appreciate that everyone across New Zealand is following the story of the HIV+ man who has allegedly infected several other people, it is important for people like Tamihere and Molloy to remember that this is rare case and not behavior that is representative of our rainbow community.

"The radio talkback show also made many comments around the HIV+ man story which were inaccurate."

RADIO LIVE WON'T COMMENT contacted Radio Live's Director of Programming, Mitch Harris, yesterday to ask him how comfortable he was with hosts drumming up homophobia on Radio Live. He emailed back, but declined to comment.

Concerns over comments by Tamihere and phone-in callers to his talkback show have seen him featured in our news headlines regularly since 2006.

The former MP has on various occasions accused gay couples of getting preferential treatment from adoption services, expressed worry over children witnessing two men kissing, and even made links between gays and paedophiles.



Some more quotes from Tamihere and Molloy's broadcast yesterday:

Molloy: If you look at the way Australia has developed, it's full of dangerous criminals, poisonous jellyfish, sharks and that type of thing, jellyfish, Uranium, hot sun… maybe we could transfer all the homosexuals over the Australia to give them one more pest, it would not hurt them one bit, they've got plenty of room to accommodate them over there.

Tamihere: I'm worried about a major public health risk here, that no-one wants to engage in and talk about, because one part of the community has this cone of silence protection over it. Because if you talk about them, you're a gay basher and all that.

Molloy: The problem is also that he's not just a bummer… he's bisexual. So he's cross-infecting with women, which brings the whole of society into play. If it's contained within the homosexual community that's slightly different.

Tamihere: Why?

Molloy: Well, it's not quite as important is it? Having homosexuals in one sector.

Molloy: Mind you, have a look at the judge, who is he? I don't know who the person in question is but there's every chance he is of the same persuasion himself which is why he'd be out on bail.

Molloy: Heterosexual white men of course are very vulnerable, but if you are a Maori, and you are gay, Jewish and member of the Labour party, you're totally protected, ring fenced.

Tamihere: This country has undergone a major shift in the last 25 years over gay rights, Maori rights, bloody Muslim rights, you name them, they're all up there. But we should never, ever be shrinking violets from talking about issues which affect us in this country…

I think that this HIV positive man, I think we need to urgently change the law. Because what you do here is, you just reward behaviours that spread HIV. And then all of a sudden, me, the old heterosexual over here, is at fault because I'm not supporting gay behaviours. I don't accept that. I don't accept that. We can have a talk about that, if there's any gays out there. Oh, by the way, not all gays are raving lunatics who are right into promiscuity, right? But it would appear that a big number are. Right?

Matt Akersten - 17th June 2009

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