NEW ZEALAND — (11-21-18) — The country’s largest gay pride parade has been engulfed with controversy after it banned police officers in uniform from marching at this year’s event.

The drama began when Auckland pride parade organizer Cissy Rock said that uniformed officers would not be welcomed at the February parade.

This statement came after an Auckland Pride Parade community meeting which resulted in a large amount of debate surrounding homophobic, racist, trans-phobic, and violent experiences at past pride parade events with police officers.

“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,” said Ms Rock in a statement to the media.

Following Ms. Rock saying that police officers in uniform were not allowed at the event, sponsors of the pride parade began pulling out of the event one after another.

Corporate sponsors such as Wespac bank, Vodafone, the Rainbow New Zealand Charitable Trust, and the Bank of New Zealand have all pulled out of their sponsorship agreements with the Auckland Pride Parade executive board.

“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,” said Vodafone New Zealand in a statement released to the media.

the Rainbow New Zealand Charitable Trust also released a statement saying that they have withdrawn their sponsorship…”It appears to be driven by a small and vociferous minority in the community, and is contrary to the wishes of the vast majority of the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,”

The members of the New Zealand Defense Force withdrew their participation from the pride parade in support of uniformed police officers. Squadron Leader Stu Pearce said the New Zealand Defense Force did not feel “comfortable” participating in an event where they are not wanted.

“Like defense, police are on their own journey and are fully committed to inclusive diversity,” said Squadron Leader Stu Pearce.

So far, the Auckland Pride Board has doubled down on excluding uniformed police officers for the pride parade. Instead, they have insisted that they are trying to create a safe space for LGBTQ people who only want to celebrate gender and sexual identities in peace.

Article by: Paul Goldberg, Staff Writer

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