21 Nov 2018

Pride parade: More sponsors pull their support

5:49 pm on 21 November 2018

Three more organisations have pulled out from next year's Auckland Pride Parade over the controversial ban on police in uniforms.

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Photo: RNZ / Cole Eastham-Farrelly

Banks and business groups are among the sponsors and participants pulling support, with six organisation withdrawing from the event in the past three days.

Vodafone, BNZ and ANZ all withdrew today, joining Westpac, the Ponsonby Business Association and the Rainbow New Zealand Trust.

Vodafone's LGBTQI workers said they would not take part in the parade unless the Pride board lifted the ban.

The company's Rainbow Whānau chair Darren Mendonsa said they could not participate in an event that applied different rules for different groups.

"Ultimately we believed that we should walk the value of inclusion, which in this case is not working at all if the police were not allowed to wear uniforms at the parade."

Although they have pulled out of the event, Mr Mendonsa said they were staying positive and were planning for the event in case the Board changes its mind.

BNZ withdrew this afternoon and the bank said in a statement its Pride@BNZ network decided not to go to the Auckland parade, but like Vodafone it would be participating in the festival in other ways.

Robbie Ellis from ANZ's Pride Network said ANZ's workers had always found the parade to be fun and inclusive.

But given the conflict, it was no longer confident that going would be a positive experience.

Mr Ellis said ANZ would continue to support the rainbow community, but its resources will be focused on other events.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said today she was not sure what her plans were for the event because she had not seen her schedule.

She would not comment on the stoush that had caused a bitter divide in the rainbow community.

"I see these as being issues directly for those who are organising the festival and events and the parade itself, and those who are contributing floats and marching on side, rather than a matter for me."

Two Pride Board members have also quit, but the head was not backing down.

Board chair Cissy Rock said it was not about the financial support from backers, but celebrating with friends and members of the LGBTQI community.

"One of the biggest criticisms we got was that Pride's too corporate, so I don't think that Pride is reliant on corporate sponsorship.

"Pride's reliant on a community that really wants to get behind it and be visible and be queer."

Ms Rock said the spat had been blown out of proportion.

She said the Board would not back down on the decision to ban police in uniforms.

"It's hard to give the LGBTQI stamp of approval to an institution that is still homophobic, transphobic, racist, violent.

"That's why this very small concession of not wearing the uniform is seen as a way forward."

Other sponsors have told RNZ they were waiting for the outcome of further discussions by the Board.

It will hold a special meeting early next month.

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