Ten years after France approved regis-tered partnerships the French territory of New Caledonia has finally legislated in line with the French initiative.
Noumea-raised Julien (name substituted), 22, explains the situation.
In New Caledonia we have the same laws as France but we also have our own Government. All new laws made in France also need to be passed by our Government, Julien said. Ten years is a long time to pass the Pacte Civil de Solidarite. It usually takes time for laws to be ratified.
Gay activists have championed the cause during the past ten years. The country’s activist group, Homosphere, on hearing the recent news, wrote, We wait for the publication of the article in the official newspaper, and hope to celebrate this altogether very soon.
The official newspaper published the announcement on May 28, allowing same-sex couples to register their relationship last week.
According to Les Nouvelles Caledoniennes, the Caledonian Executive under the presidency of Jean Lèques at the beginning of the decade was openly hostile to registered partnerships.
In 2002 Homosphere held a demonstration in support of the law, stating that non-application is an attack on the principle of equal rights. A spokesperson said at the time, This law gives new rights which go to the sense of a bigger justice and a true social solidarity. It is this model for society which we desire to live in and that we want to contribute to building New Caledonia.
While this is a significant equality victory for the south-west Pacific nation, Julien doesn’t expect there to be a rush on same-sex couples registering their relationships.
I think this law is great. But for most gay couples in Noumea, if they wanted to obtain a civil union they could have just gone to France over the past ten years, he said.
While New Caledonia is a French territory and has the same laws as France, when it comes to cultural acceptance, Julien believes there are significant differences.
The laws may be the same as the French but the mentalities are very different, he said.
France is bigger and part of Europe. They are more open to homosexuality, like many European cities, whereas my culture is less open-minded. You don’t get bashed up but it’s not really accepted by everyone.
My country is small and people are not aware of what’s around in the big world. You really need to fit in, in terms of everything -” fashion, sexuality. You need to conform a lot more.
Coming from Noumea, which has only three gay bars and even then they are mixed, to the vast Sydney gay infrastructure was eye-opening for Julien, who’s been studying here for the past three years.
When I first came here, I didn’t know gay scenes. I was completely unaware of terminology and the various groups within the gay scene. We don’t have categories. It’s always mixed, no divisions within our bars, he said.
I do find it hard to meet genuine people on the scene here. I would like to see another division for people who are looking for a serious relationship.

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