Union will march with Pride Parade despite SkyCity pulling support

Author
NZ Herald,
Section
National,
Publish Date
Saturday, 24 November 2018, 1:22p.m.
Police have been banned from the Auckland Pride Parade after some participants felt uncomfortable with their presence sparking a backlash from supporters. Photo / Steven McNicholl
Police have been banned from the Auckland Pride Parade after some participants felt uncomfortable with their presence sparking a backlash from supporters. Photo / Steven McNicholl

A union has come out in favour of the Auckland Pride Parade saying its members who work for SkyCity will still march at the event despite SkyCity pulling support for the parade.

SkyCity Employees Association of Unite Union convenor Joe Carolan said the union was disappointed to learn via media yesterday that SkyCity was pulling out of the February 16 Pride Parade.

It follows a week of dwindling support for the Ponsonby gay pride parade after five other companies including NZME, which owns the NZ Herald and Newstalk ZB, removed sponsorship for the event because the Auckland Pride Parade board excluded uniformed police from the march.

Rainbow NZ, Westpac, Vodafone, the Ponsonby Business Association and the NZ Defence Force also cut ties this week with SkyCity the latest to walk yesterday.

Carolan said it would not stop SEA-Unite "marching in solidarity with LGBT workers no matter what".

"We welcome the return of campaigning politics against all forms of discrimination and oppression to an event that celebrates Stonewall, the original LGBT rebellion against police brutality in New York in 1969."

Carolan was referring to the Stonewall riots that erupted after police raided a gay bar in Greenwich Village in June 1969.

"In recent years, this radical message has been pinkwashed out of existence by corporate dominance," Carolan said.

"Workers are finding our confidence again in New Zealand and we will be marching in solidarity with our gay, lesbian, trans and queer comrades until we all are free and liberated."

Last week, the Pride Parade board decided to ban uniformed police officers from marching at the event because some members of the rainbow community felt unsafe participating with a police presence.

The parade's board chair Cissy Rock said this week they remained committed to holding the event.

"The 2019 Auckland Pride Parade was always intended to be a place to cultivate our roots in activism and protest," Rock said in a statement.

"We have always welcomed business groups and institutions who wish to participate in a way that works for the safety of all members of our Rainbow community.

"Unfortunately, institutions such as the police were not able to compromise with the Pride board despite months of consultation with the community that highlighted more work needed to be done in order for participants to feel safe with the police's presence in the parade.

"The Pride Parade is so much more than its corporate sponsors or government institutions. It is about our Rainbow community coming together to both celebrate and fight for a future where everyone is free from systemic discrimination."

NZME's diversity committee head Kylie Telford said NZME decided to remove its sponsorship of the Auckland Pride Parade after the board's decision not to let New Zealand Police walk the parade in uniform.

"As an organisation we wholeheartedly support inclusivity, acceptance and celebration of the LGBTQ+ community, and do not agree with the board's exclusion in this way.

"We will continue our support of the Rainbow Community through different avenues."

The Pride Parade's founder, Gresham Bradley, called for the sacking of the board on the AM Show this week while MPs from across the political divide expressed disappointment with the Pride Parade board's decision.

Police Minister Stuart Nash said he was "extremely disappointed" at the Pride board's decision.

"In the New Zealand of the 21st century, police celebrate diversity and promote inclusion," he said in a statement.

The graduation parade in June this year where one of the new constables proposed to his same-sex partner is a good example of this, he said.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern would not weigh in on the situation saying only that the "Pride Parade is at its best when it's inclusive".

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