Mau tells anti-gays to chill out

NICOLA RUSSELL
Last updated 05:00 20/05/2012
tdn mau stand
Alison Mau and her partner Karleen Edmonds

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Television presenter Ali Mau wants homophobic Kiwis to wake up.

Mau is taking part in a Rainbow Youth campaign, launching today, that's aimed at raising awareness of the discrimination faced by young gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

"I don't really know where these attitudes come from. It shocks and shames me that they still exist in New Zealand," Mau told the Sunday Star-Times.

"It's time for everybody to wake up, and not just those who hold such ridiculous views."

She said those who discriminated needed to "chill out" because their stance was old-fashioned. "Why should anybody be uncomfortable about something that is normal?"

The Fair Go presenter came out in 2010 about her relationship with Karleen Edmonds.

Despite being forced to come out before she was ready, Mau said she was sure enough of herself to trust her feelings.

"It was a bit of a surprise, but it's not something I had a deep moral wrestle with. I just thought, 'I am really into this person.' It didn't matter what gender she was."

Mau wants to support younger, more vulnerable people, so coming out is not daunting.

"The campaign is for that younger age group, where you are really vulnerable and take things to heart. You're desperate to belong, and every little snub feels like an arrow to the heart. They need our protection, and our help."

Same-sex marriage hit the headlines last week when Prime Minster John Key responded to US President Barack Obama's decision to support it. Key said he would support a bill to allow it to be debated at select committee level. But he qualified that by saying it wasn't a priority for his government.

Rainbow Youth campaign leader Sam Shore said until gay people were given equal rights there would be discrimination. "At the moment we have civil union, which is different to marriage. That says, that group is different.

"When you abolish that, and we all have the same rights, it will ripple across all society."

Mau proposed to Edmonds this year and said New Zealand should have moved sooner. "I'm glad Key said that, but I wonder why he hasn't said it earlier. The fact that it has not been a priority, when I see it as a basic human right, is a bit shameful."

Only married couples can adopt in New Zealand, something Mau said would have been devastating if she had not already had children from her marriage to broadcaster Simon Dallow.

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"Adoption hasn't come up but I can imagine how I would feel, and I would feel outraged. It doesn't make any sense to me, and it didn't when I was straight either."

She and Edmonds will go offshore to marry if they have to. "The likelihood is we will have to do it offshore, but I would like to get married here, thank you. This is my home, I've lived here almost 20 years, and it would be lovely to pick some beautiful spot and get married not cuped [civil union partnership]."

Mau believes more exposure to gay relationships would help. She said everybody at her children's school knew her and her partner through the school. "People who may not have come across two women in a relationship can see we are a normal family."

- Sunday Star Times

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