Police quit Pride Parade after being told they can't march in uniform

Author
Newstalk ZB ,
Publish Date
Mon, 12 Nov 2018, 11:11AM
Police painted one police car in Pride colours to celebrate this year's Auckland Pride Festival. (Photo / NZ Police)
Police painted one police car in Pride colours to celebrate this year's Auckland Pride Festival. (Photo / NZ Police)

Police quit Pride Parade after being told they can't march in uniform

Author
Newstalk ZB ,
Publish Date
Mon, 12 Nov 2018, 11:11AM

Police may not be allowed to march in the Auckland Pride Parade in official uniforms, but there may be a far less formal thin blue line.

Police have decided they will not march in the event, after being told they are not welcome to do so in their uniforms.

The ultimatum was made by the Auckland Pride Festival Board last time.

Police diversity liaison coordinator Inspector Tracy Phillips says she's really disappointed by the decision. 

"Got a text [Thursday last week] to say that police were not allowed to march in uniform. We fought really hard internally to be able to march in uniform. We had diversity added as a value back in 2015. And basically, we're not prepared to go backwards."

Inspector Phillips says if police are not allowed to be proud of who they are and what they do for a job they will "pass quite frankly" and focus on other events like the Big Gay Out.

She says she's been given no specific reasoning, other than "some people being concerned about police being an institution they don't like".

The ruling has proved divisive, with a member of the Pride board quitting in protest and the board facing a torrent of social media backlash.

Matty Jay quit the board in a Facebook statement where he expressed his disappointment with the decision.

"It is with heavy heart to let my friends and supporters know that have tendered my resignation from the Auckland Pride Festival board as a board member and treasurer effective today."

"I have spoken to my partner and close friends and have deliberated since our last meeting on Monday and I feel strongly about the decisions that were made and stand by my decision to support the police marching in uniform," he said. 

In the Statement, Jay said his views "no longer aligned" with Auckland Pride after the decision.

However, he said he will "continue to support the Pride Board from afar where decisions and values align."

Members of the rainbow communities upset at the ban are now pledging to turn up to the parade in police themed fancy dress to support police.

A Facebook group has been set up to encourage the dress up, as well as a petition which calls for people to boycott the Parade unless Police are allowed to march in uniform.

Some are pledging to wear blue leather, others police drag, and others as kinky cops.

In a statement, Auckland Pride's board says the decision came after a series of community feedback sessions.

It says these found although there is goodwill towards police, the institution does not "meet the degree of safety and awareness of intersectionality required".

Pride will hold a Facebook Live session this week to discuss the issue.

Police's involvement in the Parade has proved controversial amongst some members of the LGBT community for several years.

In 2016, the parade came to a stop for an hour after protesters from No Pride in Prisons sat down in the middle of Ponsonby Road.

They chanted "Police are violent, we won't be silent" and protesters had to be removed from the event.