New Zealand’s largest gay pride parade is swimming in controversy after it banned police officers in uniform from marching at the event.
The trouble became when Auckland pride parade organizer Cissy Rock released a statement saying that uniformed officers would not be welcome at the February parade.
This statement came after an Auckland Pride Parade hui, community meeting, resulted in a large argument about racist, homophobic, transphobic, and violent experiences with the police, according to New Zealand news source News Hub.
“If members from our community are highlighting concerns around discrimination by those institutions, we expect them to work to address them, and that may include making compromises regarding their participation at the pride parade,” Ms Rock said in the statement.
That announcement, however, released a can of worms around the Auckland Pride Board as sponsors of the parade started to withdraw one after another.
Corporate sponsors like Wespac bank, Vodafone, the Rainbow New Zealand Charitable Trust, and the Bank of New Zealand have all withdrawn support for the march after the announcement.
"It's simply the right thing to do to stand with the police in this instance, as we would with any excluded group, and insist on inclusion for all," Vodafone New Zealand said in a statement, according to Channel News Asia.
"(It) appears to be driven by a small and vociferous minority in the community, and is contrary to the wishes of the vast majority of the rainbow community," added the Rainbow New Zealand Charitable Trust in their withdrawal statement.
Eventually, the members of the New Zealand Defense Force withdrew from the march as well to support uniformed police officers.
Squadron Leader Stu Pearce said the New Zealand Defense Force did not feel “comfortable” participating.
“Like defense, police are on their own journey and are fully committed to inclusive diversity,” Pearce said.
So far, the Auckland Pride Board has refused to back down on the issue. Instead, they have insisted that they are trying to create a safe space for LGBTQ people and those looking to celebrate gender and sexual identities.
h/t: News Hub, Channel News Asia