One little-known facet of Arie’s case has been the ‘non-association order’ that was put on Arie and Michael. Meant to stop hardened criminals from getting together to plan their next crime, it was singularly inappropriate in this case. Not only are Michael and Arie not ‘hardened criminals’, there’s a definite whiff of homophobia involved, in the sense of a same-sex relationship not being given the same value as a heterosexual one. Can anyone really imagine a straight couple, a married couple even, being slapped with such an order? Being ordered, in effect, to live apart, and have no contact at all? Would such an order even have been sought, let alone granted, if the partners were a male and female?
This order has taken a huge toll on them. They lost their flat, as they couldn’t live together. Their furniture had to be largely given away, as they had nowhere to store it. Their cat, left to fend for itself the first eleven days while they were both in jail, went ‘walkabout’, and has only just been found again recently by Michael. By the time the order was finally lifted, after three months, they were living with others on opposite sides of the city, and hardly able to see each other even then. They tried to move to another city and start again, but that proved difficult as they had to keep coming back to Christchurch for repeated court appearances.
The emotional toll it caused as well can only be guessed at. Though Arie was released from jail after eleven days, Michael spent six weeks inside – all the time without being able to have contact with his beloved partner. Though both had others around them for support, to not be able to even talk to the main person in your life must have been distressing. For Arie, as an aspie, it would also have been extremely difficult to be without his main ‘interpreter’, mediator and supporter in dealing with the confusions and stresses of the NT world. Any aspie who has such a partner or who feels the lack of one, will know how hard that must have been. As for Michael, he says of Arie simply, “he’s my rock”.
Arie and Michael – plus cat – are now planning to start their lives over again in a new city. They have behaved with enormous dignity and restraint throughout this whole business, and I’m sure many will join us Kiwi aspies and Arie’s NT supporters in wishing them all the best, and hope that their future proves to be a whole lot brighter than their recent past.