Police say they will not participate in this year’s Auckland Pride Parade following a decision by its board to ban police from marching in uniform.
Police were told they would need to march in t-shirts instead of their uniforms.
The decision has seen a handful of sponsors pull out of the parade, including Westpac, Bank of New Zealand, Vodafone New Zealand, and Ponsonby Business Association.
Rainbow New Zealand Charitable Trust, a charitable organisation which donated funds to the event, has pulled its $10,000 contribution after a unanimous decision from its trustees.
The New Zealand Defence Force has also said they will not apply to participate in next year’s Auckland Pride Parade.
Stuff.co.nz reported that a “scuffle” broke out at a meeting where an attendee said the board wouldn’t budge on the decision.
“We heard clearly during this consultation that for groups within our community the Police uniform does not make them feel safe,” the board said in a statement regarding the decision.
“During that time we also heard numerous stories of transphobia, racism, misogyny, and homophobia directed at members.
“The Board has a responsibility to listen to all of our community, and to pay attention to marginalised voices who have distanced themselves from Pride due to police involvement.”
Members who support the ban have alleged that the police’s refusal to march out of uniform shows that their involvement is motivated by brand management rather than genuine inclusiveness, but a spokesperson for NZ Police’s diversity liaison officers said that they want the work they’ve undertaken to make the police force more inclusive recognised in the parade.
A special general meeting will be held to discuss the decision, with some members reportedly expecting that the board will be removed through a no confidence motion.
Australia’s Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras recent board elections were marked with a similar debate around police involvement in the festival, with motions and candidates who supported police from marching in the Parade falling short at last month’s AGM.
This year’s Auckland Pride Parade was marred by a protest by trans-exclusionary radical feminists, or TERFs, who interrupted the parade holding a sign which read “stop giving kids sex hormones, protect lesbian youth”.
Jacinda Ardern also became the first New Zealand Prime Minister to participate in the event at this year’s parade, which also saw New Zealand’s rainbow police car take part in proceedings.