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June 5, 2018 | by  | in News | [ssba]

New Zealand Not Quite Paradise for Queer Asians

An academic’s claim that New Zealand is a queer “paradise” compared with socially conservative Asian countries may not paint the full picture.
International students at Victoria agree that New Zealand is a more supportive environment for queer youth, but are unsure as to whether NZ is really a queer “Mecca”.
In an article on the “Asian gay” community in New Zealand, AUT Associate Professor Sharyn Davies told the New Zealand Herald that, “in New Zealand, we have anti-discrimination laws and allow same sex marriage, so yes, it’s a Mecca. NZ is quite like paradise”.

60% of respondents to Gallup Analytics’ global poll said that New Zealand was “a good place for gays or lesbians”. Less than 20% of respondents felt the same way about most Asian countries, including India, China, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Russia.
A representative of Victoria’s International Students’ Association (V-ISA) said that the attitude towards queer people “is definitely more open” in New Zealand compared to most Asian countries where they still receive hostile treatment. They said that in their home countries, queer people are “not embraced and find it difficult to express themselves, especially when it is still somewhat an issue that is not touched on… In New Zealand, there’s without doubt more support for queer people”.

A queer Asian, who wishes to remain anonymous, said that while it was easier to be queer in Aotearoa than in other Asian countries, New Zealand is “nowhere near being a paradise for us.”
They said “Many queers I know are not out to their families because the threat of violence and disownment is very real… I think sometimes in diaspora, migrants hold on to an idea of their culture from the time they left, and it can be more conservative than back in their home countries. My parents think homosexuality is a mental illness and a sin, and still pressure me to get hetero married even though I’ve been out to them for over five years”.
They go on to add, “dealing with racism and lack of cultural sensitivity from the Pākehā queer community is also frustrating… I’ve had my culture and language both fetishised and disrespected/disregarded when I’ve been relationships with queer white women and by white queers in general”.
A spokesperson for Victoria University said that to the best of their knowledge, there have been no complaints or concerns from international students about derogatory or racist behaviour directed at them during their time at Victoria in 2018.
Currently, there are no international students that UniQ is aware of attending UniQ’s regular events. UniQ is the representative group for queer students on the Victoria University Campus.


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