Police have charged two men with vandalising a pink “house of queer worship” in remote New Zealand with anti-Semitic and homophobic slurs.
The pink church – named Gloria – was built in 1938 and is located in Blaketown, Greymouth on the remote west coast of New Zealand’s South Island.
After the church was recently deconsecrated, queer poet and artist Sam Ducker-Jones bought the building in 2020.
He’s living inside it as he creates a public artwork inside the “a temple of non-denominational queer celebration.”
“It’s a glowing house of queer worship, where gays across the nation can come and bask in the spirit of campness and glitter and be silly,” the artist has explained.
“It’s also an immersive sculpture, so you come in and you’re in a piece of art.”
But this week Ducker-Jones took to Instagram to show that vandals had scrawled the graffiti along both sides of the building.
One of the religious messages included a Biblical reference to homosexuals being put to death.
Ducker-Jones’ rainbow flag, staked on the front lawn, was also set alight and destroyed.
“The Greymouth community responded beautifully, with love, support and outrage. The Greymouth police moved quickly, taking this act of hate seriously,” he wrote.
But a drag show still went ahead at the venue undeterred over the weekend.
“Gloria went on to have a wonderful weekend of queer celebration. Thanks to all who raced over with flowers, cards, tears, hugs, food, paint, love and friendship,” he said.
“Thanks to all who came to the shows – they did go on and they will go on again and again and again.”
Two New Zealand men charged over graffiti on queer church Gloria
A police spokesperson told Stuff the vandlised had defaced the church building in the early hours of June 2.
“A 20-year-old man and a 21-year-old man have been charged with intentional damage,” the spokesperson said.
But the vandalism has sparked calls for improvements to hate crime legislation in New Zealand.
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