A gay journalist in New Zealand was beaten up during Pride weekend in a homophobic incident.
Aziz Al-Sa’afin, a reporter/producer for New Zealand morning talk show The AM Show, said he and a friend were attacked by at least two people while out in Auckland on Saturday (February 9) night, just as the city was in the middle of celebrating Pride weekend.
“I got gay bashed,” he said, speaking about the homophobic attack on the talk show on Tuesday (February 12).
Al-Sa’afin said he and his friend were approached by the would-be “unassuming” attackers while walking down Karangahape Road, which is known as K-road, in the heart of Auckland’s gay neighbourhood.
“Before I knew it, my friend was on the ground, getting bashed,” he recalled. Al-Sa’afin was also hit in the face, and as he fell back, he could see his friend on the ground getting kicked in the stomach and punched in the face.
The gay journalist said the attackers were shouting homophobic slurs: “They were saying fags, homos, you’re going to hell.”
Al-Sa’afin continued: “I had no idea where I was. I actually thought—and I don’t say this lightly—I thought I was going to die in that moment. It was a place where I don’t think my mind has ever been before.”
But the journalist had a defiant message for the attackers, who have yet to be caught: “I feel sorry for them, for their partners, for their families. You tried to break my spirit but you failed miserably. You made me stronger.”
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The next day, Al-Sa’afin attended Pride festivities, where he was due to be the MC, despite his family questioning his decision.
He has also reported the attack to the police, who have supported him while noting that few people come forward to report homophobic incidents as people remain “too afraid to come forward, too afraid to be judged.”
Gay journalist Aziz Al-Sa’afin shares message of solidarity with survivors of homophobic violence
The journalist appealed for witnesses to come forward with any possible information about the attack, but he also addressed those who have survived homophobic violence.
“To those who have been a victim of this kind of brutal crime, you are not alone and it’s OK to speak up,” he said.
Al-Sa’afin later posted a message on his social media platforms to thank those have supported him and once again sent a message of love to the community and survivors of homophobic violence.
“You are not alone and you have nothing to be ashamed about. Stay proud, stay strong, and always know you are who you are meant to be, no matter what anyone says.”
— Aziz Al-Sa’afin
He wrote: “Like yesterday, today I wear my bruises with pride. #Pride to not be silenced, abused, or judged for who I am and who I love. You tried to break not only my face, but my heart too, and you failed. Try as you might, my community won’t be broken, like you obviously are. You will be found.
“For those who have been on the opposite end of a fist, a foot, even a knife, you are not alone and you have nothing to be ashamed about. Stay proud, stay strong, and always know you are who you are meant to be, no matter what anyone says. I am overwhelmed and inundated with messages of support love, and help.
“Some have even bravely shared their own stories, and I will get back to each an every one of you, that I promise. Thank you Aotearoa, for embracing me and my friend today. Sometimes, all you need is just a big hug, and today we got that from the entire country. ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜”