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New Caledonia couple seeks baby joy in NZ

Thu 10 Dec 2009 In: True Stories View at Wayback View at NDHA

Civil Unions are now possible in New Caledonia, where hate crimes are very rare and life is generally good for LGBT people - but lesbian couple Geneviève Sutter and Joane Paidi had to visit NZ to help complete their family. Baby hopes: Genevieve have to hope." Being gay in New Caledonia Geneviève and Joane are proud to be part of New Caledonia's influential 'Homosphere' LGBT network. Anse Vata beach in New Caledonia The network has a five-year plan to battle HIV and discrimination against LGBT people in the French-speaking islands in the southwest Pacific, where the population is a tiny 250,000. "Part of it will be working towards adoption rights for same-sex couples," Geneviève explains. "We're focussed on making it happen, but it will get a lot of resistance. "Another issue is resistance from schools to introducing our anti-discrimination work. They're afraid of what we might say. Three or four years ago there was a brochure out which showed gay people having sex. It wasn't supposed to be used in schools, but a student took it to class and it caused a controversy." Homosphere has one full-time staff member who keeps busy planning events and projects. There are six parties and gatherings each year, attracting up to 400 people. They're particularly necessary since there are no specifically gay bars or clubs on the islands. The organisation is based in Nouméa, but some of its projects, including a recent LGBT art exhibition, tour New Caledonia's other centres. Homosphere has also started a new LGBT library, which was proud to donate some New Zealand gay books to. New Caledonia's LGBT community is strengthening, but there have been recent setbacks, says Geneviève. "We have a 'Carnivale' parade in Nouméa, but cannot have a gay parade - our conservative mayor won't allow it. Up until recently we had a phone support service, but volunteers to run it were hard to find and there weren't many calls, so it stopped. We're hoping the government will run with a new initiative which would be a sexual health info line, so that LGBT questions can be diverted to our association. "In general though, we have a good life in Nouméa. Hate crimes are very rare, and if a gay couple is seen holding hands in the street, they are accepted. Like New Zealand, it's a friendly and beautiful place to live - and to raise a family."     Matt Akersten - 10th December 2009

Credit: Matt Akersten

First published: Thursday, 10th December 2009 - 9:59pm

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