Last week, New Zealand Police was advised by the Board of Auckland Pride that a decision had been made that Police officers were welcome to participate in the 2019 Auckland Pride Parade, but would not be able to march in uniform.
The Board came to this decision following its annual series of consultation meetings, during which members of our rainbow communities had come forward with feedback about the presence of Police. The visibility of the Police uniform, in particular, had made them feel less safe about participating in the Auckland Pride Parade.
Issues and concerns relating to New Zealand Police were raised again and again throughout a series of four Auckland Pride Community Hui that were held across Tāmaki Makaurau during August. Complaints about Police consistently outnumbered feedback about any other institution or organisation.
A special Hot Topic Hui was organised for October, so the Board could hear more views from our communities on the place of New Zealand Police within Auckland Pride.
The personal experiences of Police mistreatment shared by LGBTQIA+ people throughout this lengthy consultation process were deeply affecting. The Board could not ignore them.
The Board’s decision to ask Police to march in the 2019 Auckland Pride Parade, out of uniform, was a compromise. The intention was to encourage all people within our rainbow communities to feel safe and included within their own event – without having to exclude our valued LGBTQIA+ Police officers.
New Zealand Police subsequently decided to exclude its own people, because they could not wear a uniform that was causing LGBTQIA+ people and communities to feel unwelcome at an LGBTQIA+ event. Auckland Pride values people over uniforms.
Auckland Pride’s major public event, the Parade along Ponsonby Road is first and foremost a celebration of and for Tāmaki Makaurau’s rainbow communities – which includes people identifying as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex, takatāpui, whakawāhine, tangata ira tāne, fa’afafine, fakaleiti, akava’ine, māhū, vaka sa lewa lewa, rae rae, fiafifine, fakafifine, palopa, kathoey, hijra, baklâ, genderfluid, genderqueer, pansexual, asexual, queer and questioning.
Following the Board’s decision, and subsequent Police decision, both organisations have been engaged in ongoing dialogue, and have expressed a commitment to work alongside each other in order to build safer communities together.
Police staff, including Diversity Liaison Officers (DLO’s), will still be engaging with the 2019 Parade in an operational capacity. For a list of rainbow-friendly DLO contacts, please visit: www.police.govt.nz/dlos
Auckland Pride has offered to facilitate opportunities for non-uniformed Police officers to march in the 2019 Parade with local rainbow community groups and other participating organisations.
Auckland Pride will continue to work with New Zealand Police towards an equitable partnership and long-term plan in which both organisations can move forward together to explore solutions to the issues and concerns that have been raised, and to support healing and reconciliation.
The Board of Auckland Pride wishes to acknowledge New Zealand Police for their willingness to work alongside rainbow communities towards upholding the rights and dignity of all people of diverse sexual orientation, gender identities, gender expressions and sex characteristics living in Aotearoa New Zealand.
The Board apologises to our rainbow communities for any distress that may have been caused by this decision, and our lack of communication over the past week. The Board had agreed to work on a joint statement with Police, and remained silent out of respect for this process.
Thank you to all those who engaged in the intervening debate in a thoughtful and respectful manner. Auckland Pride’s objective is to create safe spaces for our communities and to discuss the issues that are important to them.
The Board invites people who wish to talk about the Police decision to attend a special Auckland Pride Community Hui, facilitated by Tim Foote, at the Grey Lynn Community Centre this Sunday 18 November, commencing at 7.30pm.