Arsonists Force New Zealand Lesbian Couple to Close Business
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.