30 Nov 2018

Police named organisation of the year at LGBTI awards

10:33 am on 30 November 2018

Police have taken out the organisation of the year award at the first LGBTI awards in Auckland.

Police at Wellington's Pride Parade

Police at Wellington's Pride Parade Photo: RNZ/ Reesh Lyon

This follows the Auckland Pride Parade Board's decision to ban police uniforms at next year's event, which has divided the rainbow community.

Nine organisations, including Fletcher Building, ANZ, Westpac and SkyCity have pulled their support of the event following the decision.

About 350 people attended the LGBTI awards in Auckland last night.

Event organiser Suran Dickinson said despite recent controversy, the organisations still deserve recognition for their work to include the rainbow community.

"It's an unfortunate situation, I have a lot of empathy for both sides in this, it's a really challenging one to unpeel.

"The people that are in the room tonight are here because they've done fantastic work and the winners have all done amazing jobs at what they do and that's what we're here to celebrate," Ms Dickson said.

NZ Air Force personnel attended  the LGBTI Awards in Auckland.

Air Force personnel also attended last night's awards. Photo: RNZ / Maxine Jacobs

This is the first time the awards ceremony has been held in New Zealand. Similar ceremonies have been held in the UK and Australia.

However the award ceremony hasn't received a warm reception from some members of the LGBTI community, with some raising concerns over the organiser's motives.

But Ms Dickson said the event was being held for the right reasons.

"The intention with this is pretty pure, you know, it's to create role models and to engage corporates to get them to up their game ... people who are still a bit unconfident about where to go with diversity and inclusion programmes, we want them in this room so they are hearing from others," Ms Dickson said.

Despite this, a number of community organisations, including Rainbow Youth, declined award nominations.

Rainbow Youth's Toni Duder said the cost of attending the event was a worry for some community groups.

"Our community organisations are really struggling to keep our heads above water in terms of funding. So to see an organisation, or an awards ceremony, come over and getting really big corporations on board to sponsor it raised a few red flags with us," Ms Duder said.

LGBTQI organisations raised their concerns with event organisers but they weren't sufficiently addressed, Ms Duder said.

Fellow winners include the Topp Twins, who took out the Lifetime Achievement Award, and actress Lucy Lawless won the Local Icon award.

Labour MP Louisa Wall was crowned Politician of the Year, and singer Anika Moa won Musician of the Year.

Downhill mountain biker Kate Weatherly won the Sports Personality category and Dr Elizabeth Kerekere won the Takatāpui Role Model category.

TVNZ journalist Kim Baker Wilson was crowned the Media Professional of the Year.

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