Students at the University of Canterbury banded together last night, wearing pink to show solidarity with a fellow student who says he was the victim of a homophobic attack one week earlier.
By Talia Mimilo
The student said he was outside university bar The Foundry on Thursday 27 February when his pink shirt triggered a stranger to verbally abuse him then punch him in the face.
Police are investigating the incident and have urged anyone who has information on the case to contact them on 105.
Ben O’Connell, Natasha Beattie and Martine Barnes were among the students who found the incident unsettling. Outraged that it could happen in their community, they decided to do something, which resulted in last night's event.
Dubbed #PinkShirtMono by Mr O’Connell, students were encouraged to wear pink shirts to the bar's weekly Thursday gig night.
The idea took off after Ms Barnes posted it on a Facebook group.
"After a recent UCSA Noticeboard post where a student bravely shared how they were subject to homophobia and violence, as a student body we must come together as one to stand up in solidarity against hate," the post said. "The student was wearing a pink shirt so if you are attending MONO tonight, wear a pink shirt!'
Ms Barnes described last night's response as "surreal and empowering".
“We hope it’s proved UC as a place the student belongs with open arms.” she added.
Zeinab Al-Hasani told 1 NEWS he attended the event because no one should be hurt for being who they are.
Derrick Edward, another student at the university, said he wore a pink shirt because he "wanted to show that UC does not tolerate hate of any kind". He added: “We are all people, that is all that matters.”
University of Canterbury Students Association president Tori McNoe said the point of the demonstration went beyond a single attack.
“We are disappointed this has happened, and we do not tolerate harassment of any kind here in our community," she said. "It doesn't matter if it's homophobia, sexism, racism or any other abuse, it has no place at UC.”
Ms McNoe is urging students to continue reporting harassment of any kind through the appropriate channels, saying it will not be tolerated.
The student, with the support of security footage, has provided details to police.