'Go back to the gas chamber': Auckland men targeted in appalling homophobic rant

Two Auckland men were recently the target of a vile homophobic rant while trying to enjoy lunch in a wealthy Auckland suburb.

It was 12:30pm on Wednesday when Max Tweedie and his friend, both proud members of the queer community, met for lunch in Auckland's Herne Bay.

They had found an outdoor seat at a popular cafe, ordered drinks, and were happily chatting when a woman approached their table.

"She told us that we needed to get wives," said Mr Tweedie.

He said the woman wasn't dining at the café; she was passing by on the street when she interrupted their conversation.

"She told us we were 'putting people off their lunch', and asked if we needed female escorts", he said.

Mr Tweedie promptly told the woman she was harassing them, and needed to leave.

"I feel harassed by you f*gs," she told them.

He said when he threatened to call the police, the woman's attack escalated.

"We were already shaken, and then the woman told us to 'go back to the gas chamber where you belong'."

He pulled out his phone and dialled 111, then the woman walked away.

"I've been called names before, but nothing like this," he said. "It took about 10 minutes for me to stop shaking."

The Human Rights Commission's Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Sex Characteristics Commissioner, Saunoamaali'i Dr Karanina Sumeo, said people may not realise that homophobia is still so rife in New Zealand.

"This incident is another example that Aotearoa still has a long way to go, despite achieving marriage equality five years ago."

Mr Tweedie said he was shocked the table of four next to them, who he believes heard the whole thing, didn't speak up during or after the incident.

"They didn't even ask us if we were okay after the woman had left."

Dr Sumeo's advice was clear: "If you witness homophobic acts, you can stand up to it by supporting the victim, recording the incident, and reporting it to the Police."

Mr Tweedie said it was hard standing up for oneself in a situation like the one he and his friend faced.

He said he understood that the table next to him were also shocked, but wished they had said something during the tirade.

"My advice to people is don't be afraid to stand up to injustice when you see it."

Dr Sumeo said it's important to understand that homophobia did not end when the same-sex marriage bill was passed.

"We need to talk about and acknowledge this harassment and violence as a first step in addressing the issue. It's still happening and it's not okay."

As for future lunch dates? Mr Tweedie said the incident would not stop him from "going out and being queer".