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Gay Labor Candidate Tells Terrifying Story About Being Bashed On The Street

"This is gay bashing, this is bigotry and it's unacceptable."

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On Wednesday he shared an emotional video on Facebook about the time he was bashed just for being gay.

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Loader held back tears as he described the night he was assaulted by three drunk men on the streets of Adelaide.

BuzzFeed News / Via Facebook: matt.loader.3

It was 11pm and he was walking home from the pub, along a main road when three young drunk men approach them.

"I was walking home with someone and I was holding his hand and that’s what triggered it," Loader told BuzzFeed News.

The then 24-year-old was so badly hurt he lost two teeth, had to take six weeks off work and has permanently lost feeling in the left half of his face.

"I was so heavily concussed and confused that I didn't realise how hurt I was until I went into the bathroom and saw that I was covered with blood, all over my face, and I collapsed on the floor," he said.

Because of the concussion, Loader wasn't able to identify the perpetrators and they were never caught.

Years on, the assault has left a mark on his life, and was a driving factor in his involvement in the South Australian gay rights movement.

"This is gay bashing, this is bigotry and it's unacceptable," he said.

"What happened to me is an inevitable consequence of a society who haven't given people in same-sex relationships the full citizenship and equality that is their birthright as human beings."

BuzzFeed News / Via Facebook: matt.loader.3

The 40-year-old wasn't sure he'd feel comfortable sharing his story, but changed his mind after the Liberal Party announced it was sticking with its policy for a marriage equality plebiscite.

"There are thousands of young australians experiencing bullying, victimisation and harassment everyday on account of their sexuality. I wanted them to know it's important and they’re not alone," he said.

Loader also wanted to send a message to conservative politicians, saying he believes their anti-equality policy encourages violence.

"Until we change our marriage laws we are still saying that some people and some relationships are less equal than others, thereby giving to some degree a licence to some people with prejudice to act in violent ways - giving a green light to their bigotry."

Liberal support has been dropping in Adelaide, and Loader put that down to it's hypocritical position on a number of issues including marriage equality.

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He's accused Pyne and the prime minister Malcolm Turnbull of saying one thing but doing another.

"I think they're trying to appeal to too many groups at the same time. They've allowed Cory Bernardi and Tony Abbott to confuse their agenda. They should just choose a side and stick with it," he said.

Polling suggests the seat is still a three way race - with the Liberals, Labor and Nick Xenophon's candidate all in contention.

A ReachTEL poll by Getup! found 41% of people support Christopher Pyne, with 21% backing Nick Xenophon Team candidate Matthew Wright, 20% backing Labor and 8% backing the Greens.

"Pyne is spending a lot of time locally - and he’s doing that because he feels concerned about holding his seat. He’s had the prime minister, the former prime minister and three other senior ministers visiting his electorate in the last week, which shows how concerned he is... and I think that’s a good thing for the people of Sturt, that no one will take this seat for granted."

I know why hundreds of thousands of Australians think [marriage equality] is important.It took me a long time to come out about my sexuality with my family and friends. And some years later as a young man, I was walking home one night with someone when I encountered three drunken louts who thought it was okay to bash me up because I was different. They bashed me up so badly I lost two teeth.They bashed me up so badly that I lost permanent feeling on the left hand side of my face.So badly that it took me six weeks before I could return to work.So badly that it was six months before I stopped having flashbacks and stopped being afraid to walk my own neighbourhood at night.So marriage equality is so much more important as a symbol of what Australia should and can be. If we cannot give our citizens equal citizenship, we're giving a green light to hatred.Australia can do so much better than this and there will be no prouder moment in my life than if I have the opportunity to stand on the floor of the Parliament and cast my vote in favour of changing this law.

Alice Workman is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Canberra.

Contact Alice Workman at alice.workman@buzzfeed.com.

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