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NZ telco’s support for trans-activist’s comments is Spark for new TERF war

Staff Reporter
July 12, 2023

New Zealand mobile and broadband provider Spark is facing calls for a boycott by people who say they are appalled with the network’s support of Fijian-New Zealand trans-activist Shaneel Lal demand that ‘TERFS’ be banned from Facebook/Meta’s new Threads social media platform. 

 ‘TERF’ (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist) refers to women who dispute that trans-gender women are biological women

Lal, a Fijian-born Zealand LGBT rights activist posted:

“Dear Threaders, Can we agree that we won’t tolerate TERFs on Threads. They’ve made the lives of trans people living hell on almost all platforms. Let’s not allow their hatred to poison this app too. Requested with love.”

Spark’s response was;

“Yes PLEASE, wholeheartedly co-signed”.

This provoked a social media backlash with comments such as “This broad-brush slur against women is disgusting”.

Spark then doubled down on its position saying:

“We stand by our response to @shaneellal on Threads. We will continue to support the rights of trans and non-binary people and we’re not interested in discussing this further.”

After further uproar Spark eventually rowed back on its orginal comments and agreed its initial response to the Lal remark was “not handled well”. It issued a statement:

We know there has been a lot of debate over the weekend, and we would like to provide more clarity on where we stand. We recognise there are wide-ranging views on how to create safe spaces in both the online and offline world, and we will continue to live up to our own values, and our belief in diversity and inclusion, while respecting each person’s right to their own view. We know our original posts did not reflect this well, and that’s something we will learn from.”

Many (below) remained unhappy with Spark’s position and still pushed for a boycott and urged users to move to another provider such as One NZ or 2degrees. This only encouraged One NZ to defend spark saying “We stand with you, @sparknz and anyone else brave enough to call them out,”

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