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Arsonists Force New Zealand Lesbian Couple to Close Business

by Steve Weinstein
Contributor
Monday Jan 24, 2011
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LGBT New Zealanders can’t marry or adopt as a couple, but they otherwise have achieved total equal rights. Achieving total tolerance, however, remains an issue. Outside of the three urban centers of Wellington, Aukland and Christchurch, much of the rugged South Seas island nation can be conservative if downright prejudiced.

Proof of that came like a thunderbolt to a lesbian couple in the north of the country. Or two thunderbolts, actually.

On Jan. 22, in the evening, the packing shed of Lindsay Curnow and Lulet Leigh’s florist business, Blooming Bulbs, was marred by fire that the police deemed arson. The blaze occurred only a week after anti-lesbian graffiti was written on the shed, along with the women’s cars and home.

As a result of the fire, Blooming Bulbs will not open during the tourist season in the picturesque area of Mangawhai Heads. "We are considering whether we have the energy or the heart to continue again in 2012," the women were quoted as telling website Gay Newzeland. They are both in their mid-60s.

Although poilce are not yet classifying it as a hate crime, it certainly looks that way. "We thought we lived in a quiet peaceful little beach village here at Mangawhai Heads," they said. They said their sexuality had never arisen as an issue with their neighbors in an interview in the New Karala, N.Z., newspaper.

Police Det. John Gilbert said the women couldn’t think of anyone with whom they had quarreled.

This isn’t the first time something like has happened in New Zealand. Only a little over a week ago, a Christchurch male couple was driven out of business by a local family that targeted their bakery, car and home for abuse and vandalism. As reported here, the two men’s customers were harassed; and the family screamed "faggots!" after them.

Steve Weinstein has been a regular correspondent for the International Herald Tribune, the Advocate, the Village Voice and Out. He has been covering the AIDS crisis since the early ’80s, when he began his career. He is the author of "The Q Guide to Fire Island" (Alyson, 2007).

Comments

  • Anonymous, 2011-02-05 19:08:22

    Proof reading note: Aukland should be Auckland Lulet Leigh is Juliet Leigh Blooming Bulbs is not a florist business, it is a Mail Order & Internet business selling spring-flowering bulbs the police deemed arson - The Fire Safety Officer for the Northland Rgion state that it was arson Blooming Bulbs will not open during the tourist season?? The tourist season doesn’t affect bulbs which are sold & planted from March through June in the southern hemisphere. website Gay Newzeland is actually www.gaynz.com They are both in their mid-60s - they are 62 & 64. poilce - correct spelling is police an interview in the New Karala, N.Z., newspaper. There is no such paper or name "Karala" in New Zealand - the first interview was with the Sunday Star Times. Thank you Lindsay & Juliet


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