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Carmen to light up Wellington's Cuba St

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 4/08/2016

First Kate Sheppard, now Carmen.

Pedestrian crossing lights featuring the silhouette of transgender icon Carmen are set to be unveiled in Wellington's former red light district of Cuba St.

It follows the success of pedestrian crossing lanterns installed near Parliament in 2014 in honour of Sheppard, New Zealand's most prominent suffragette.

Carmen, born Trevor Rupe in 1936, was a drag performer, brothel keeper, anti-discrimination activist, would-be politician and HIV/AIDS activist.

She was a colourful member of the Cuba St and transgender community until her death in 2011.

Mal Kennedy-Vaughan, from Scotty and Mal's bar, says the street has always celebrated colourful characters and diversity.

"We're glad she's being honoured in this way and she would've loved it too!"

The launch of the lights, which have Carmen's silhouette instead of the green man cross-now signal, is scheduled for next Monday afternoon.

Wellington City Council strategy and communications director Jeremy Baker said the August 8 date coincided with the 30th anniversary of the Homosexual Law Reform Bill coming into effect.

"New Zealand has come a long way in its support of the rainbow community, but there's still a lot of work to be done," he said.

"Celebrating the wonderful character that Carmen was in this way displays tolerance, unity and Wellington pride on many levels and the council is proud to be a part of that."

The council plans to honour other famous Wellington figures in similar fashion.

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