7 Dec 2018

Auckland Pride Parade members vote to keep board

9:45 am on 7 December 2018

Hundreds of Auckland Pride Parade members have voted to keep its board, after it faced a vote of no confidence for preventing uniformed police at next year's event.

Police at Wellington's Pride Parade

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

At a meeting last night, the no-confidence motion was defeated - 325 votes to 273.

The decision to disallow uniformed police has split the rainbow community and led to several sponsors pulling out of the parade.

Police can march in the parade, but have been told not to do so in uniform.

Last month, the Pride board announced the move, saying some members of the rainbow community raised concerns about their treatment by police.

The visibility of uniformed police, they said, made some feel less safe about participating.

At a series of hui last month, members of the community were invited to discuss the decision. At one meeting, opponents of the ban walked out when they were told the board would not reconsider its position and a second group walked out when things become heated.

The board's chair, Cissy Rock, acknowledged the controversy has done a lot of damage.

She said there were those who felt they were treated badly by police and the board listened to that.

She told Morning Report it was hard to tell which way the vote would go.

"I'd planned three or four different endings. This is the best ending for the board and for Pride," she said.

"We can get moving on what Pride 2019 will look like."

Ms Rock said she would meet with police next week.

Seven hundred people joined Pride membership ahead of the vote but Ms Rock denied it had been stacked.

"From what we can tell it was quite a spread of people and voices - for and against.

"Everyone has had a long time to join and have their say."

She said losing sponsorships gave Pride an opportunity to go "grassroots" but she was open to having conversations with those that had pulled out.

Thousands take part in the annual Ponsonby Road parade.

Police withdrew their application to march after the decision on the uniform.

Police Inspector Tracy Phillips, the senior district liaison officer for diversity, said the decision was taken because officers would not march if there were members of the community who did not feel safe.

Uniformed officers first joined an Auckland Pride Parade in 2015.

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