Sunday , August 1 2021

The Pride Future Parade is in doubt over the stoush police uniform

Next year the Auckland Pride Parade can be at risk because some partners and sponsors are rethinking their funding after stousing the ban on police uniforms.

Police at the Wellington Parade Pride

Police at the Wellington Parade Pride.
Photo: RNZ / Reesh Lyon

Earlier this month the Auckland Pride council announced it would allow the police to join the 2019 parade – just not in uniform.

The Pride Council said its customer community repeatedly raised issues and concerns about the police through a series of hui.

The visibility of police uniforms, they said, made some people feel less secure in taking part, so the decision was made to compromise.

A follow-up meeting was held at Gray Lynn last night to discuss the decision.

People Against Aotearoa Prison is one of those who support it – pointing to what they say is a growing problem from police brutality against Māori.

"They want to use Pride as a PR opportunity. People who oppose Aotearoa Prison say when you stop hitting and swinging and spraying pepper and shooting Māori, then you can use gay people as PR actions," said spokesman Emilie Raete.

He spoke at the meeting "very tense", and said a man repeatedly shouted and interrupted people who spoke teo.

"Finally everyone was sick of him and the facilitator asked him to leave and the crowd also joined.

"So he got out of his chair, he walked to where I was sitting and stood on top of me screaming on my face that Māori asked him when we were killed by the police, shaking his hand on my face and shouting at me.

"When I told him maybe he should consider leaving just like that, he started spitting on my face."

Max Tweedie, Volunteer and Event Officer for the NZ AIDS Foundation, also agreed with the decision and said the meeting was an opportunity to present the facts.

"People who opposed the council's decision, they were there to shout and make a scene and as soon as they did not get their way, they could not vote for the council out, they all left and it was disappointing because I thought the opportunity was there to listen and my view must be challenged by those who speak. "

Michael Stevens is among the many frustrated opponents of the council's decision, and left after the fight.

Previously there was a way out when the council said that they would not reconsider their decision.

He said about one third of the participants supported the police marching in uniform.

"Looking through Pride constitutions under their charitable goals, they have statements about being inclusive of the whole rainbow group and that should include the Police," Stevens said.

"They seem to me to violate their consistency if they continue to take this position.

"So I think they have to go back and reconsider their position, I don't want to see them leave, I want to see them do it better."

He said members had triggered a vote of no confidence in the council – with a Special General Meeting to be held in the coming weeks.

"Some people called for the council to resign, some people called for the Pride to be postponed next year.

"I don't know how broad the view is, but there is a lot of anger and distress over the whole situation and I think it can be handled much better than before."

"I think it's possible that the march can't happen."

Gresham Bradley is one of the chairmen of Auckland Pride until 2013, in his first year re-launching festivals and parades.

He was critical of the decision and said there were deep concerns about its impact.

"I think this now causes sponsors, this is the biggest risk, that sponsors will reevaluate their position in sponsoring festivals and marches and that people will consider whether they want to participate in the parade at all or at a reduced level.

He said he understood the sponsors had been in discussions about their involvement and he was afraid it could cause "irreparable damage".

"Pride is actually at the point where he has attracted significant corporate sponsors and participated both in festivals and marches and of course if it is lost on what basis can Pride really continue to exist? Because this event costs a lot of money to be charged.

Chair of the New Zealand Pay Charity Board, Gresham Bradley, said that the trust council was worried about the debate and would meet tonight to decide on Pride funding.

Ponsonby Business Association said its council also considered its options.

Bear New Zealand, an inclusive social group, posted on its Facebook page this afternoon which will now not participate in the Pride Parade.

Auckland Pride Festival Board Chair Cissy Rock declined to comment ahead of tonight's board meeting.

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