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Herne Bay House: "Get over it"

Sat 17 Sep 2005 In: New Zealand Daily News

Auckland City Mission CEO Dianne Robertson has said a large number of the gay community opposed the closure of its AIDS hospice Herne Bay House because of strong emotional connections to it, but that essentially people need to get over it. "Many have come here to tend to dying friends and partners. They have planted trees in the garden in memory of loved ones. There's been a huge amount of anger about its closure," Robertson told the Central Leader. "The gay male community have a huge sense of ownership of this place and not a sense that it's actually owned by the Auckland City Mission. People just need to let go." But Robertson told earlier this month that opposition to the closure was modest, and that most of the anger that had surfaced during public consultations about the closure was directed at the gay community itself, with accusations that the facility had been hogged by gay men. 90% of those living with HIV in New Zealand are gay men, yet opposition from other interested parties – who appeared to outnumber gay community groups at the consultations – insisted that Herne Bay House had been too exclusive. HIV sufferer Lyn Parent was one of the complainants voicing this, although she herself spent a night at the facility two years ago. "Herne Bay House was great in getting relaxation. But there were far too many gay guys and no balance," she says. Robertson says the Auckland City Mission will continue to provide support for HIV sufferers in the community, but has suggested the service will no longer be tailored or specific. "We will no longer have a label around our neck saying we work with people with HIV and AIDS,” she told the Central Leader.    

Credit: News Staff

First published: Saturday, 17th September 2005 - 12:00pm

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