Correspondence between Auckland Pride and the Police has been released under the Official Information Act.
stuff.co.nz has obtained emails which reveal the extent of police’s disappointment at Auckland Pride’s decision to not allow uniformed police from participating in the 2019 parade, which was later cancelled.
Stuff details that inspector Tracey Philips voiced her opposition to the Pride Board’s suggested compromise which allowed police to participate but only out of uniform.
When NZ Police declined that offer, Auckland Pride said in a press release police had decided to “exclude its own people because they could not wear a uniform that was causing LGBTQIA+ people… to feel unwelcome at an LGBTQIA+ event”.
Phillips emailed Auckland Pride board chair Cissy Rock saying (she was) “really offended by paragraph seven… that is not conducive to ongoing relationships.”
Rock replied, “We felt like we were putting forward a compromise with the ‘no uniform but still participating’, and you were clear that not one police person would come if not in uniform.
“This is when it did become apparent that finding a way forward was getting less likely. I like how we did try to find a way forward, even though you felt our release wasn’t balanced.”
Rock stated the decision to ask police not to march in uniform came after, “difficult discussions and community feedback”.
Rock says the decision to ban uniformed police was a result of the Pride board taking the view that the police “as an institution… doesn’t meet the degree of safety and awareness of intersectionality that is needed to satisfy the current community feedback.”
Philips notes in her response that it is unclear what changes Pride wished to see, however, as they were not outlined by Rock in the emails.
“In order to have effective and positive change we need to understand what you want, I am not sure what that is yet… we are keen to understand what Pride think we need to do.”
Philips went on to explain why the non-uniform ‘compromise’ was not acceptable to the police.
“The uniform… is part of who we are. We do think that without branding… we are just people walking down the road. Our staff who publicly outed themselves to ensure that we could march are hurting. I don’t want to fight – it’s exhausting and unproductive.
“What we want is to work with you … to make things better. Let’s find solutions fast and ensure everyone’s mana and the parade are intact and celebrated as it should be.”
Auckland Pride would ultimately proceed with their decision to not allow uniformed police.
Within weeks, the 2019 Auckland Pride parade was cancelled and replaced with a smaller march after a number of corporations and community groups pulled their support.