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In New Zealand, arson destroys lesbian couple’s business

MANGAWHAI HEADS, New Zealand -- Police are investigating an "atrocious" and apparently homophobic arson attack which has destroyed the floral business of a lesbian couple in the Northland town of Mangawhai Heads.

On Saturday night the packing shed of Lindsay Curnow and Juliet Leigh's business Blooming Bulbs was set alight in the picturesque and popular holiday spot.

The suspicious blaze was a week after the shed was hit with anti-lesbian graffiti, as were the women's vehicles and home.

The entire shed contents were destroyed in the fire, which police have deemed suspicious.

The woman say it's lucky the wind was blowing in the right direction and the local fire brigade arrived promptly, as there were three houses just a few metres from the shed – including their own.

Curnow and Leigh say as a result of the blaze the packing shed will be demolished and they are unable to open Blooming Bulbs this season. The couple have emailed their customers to tell them so. "We are considering whether we have the energy or the heart to continue again in 2012," they say.

The women are clearly horrified at the apparent anti-lesbian crimes, describing the arson as sick. "We thought we lived in a quiet peaceful little beach village here at Mangawhai Heads."

Detective John Gilbert of the Rodney CIB is appealing for public help in solving the crime, saying police have no suspects at this stage and the business owners are not aware of anyone who would carry out such acts.

"They can't nominate anyone who has given them any problems or would cause them any grief," Detective Gilbert says.

"Obviously it's a real concern that someone in the community there would do this deed. It's pretty atrocious behaviour."

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