Auckland mayoral candidates speak to LGBTQI+ forum

8:57 am on 5 September 2019

The director of Auckland Pride says he would liked to have seen John Tamihere address his past homophobic comments when he spoke to a rainbow business group.

John Tamihere

Auckland mayoral candidate John Tamihere. Photo: Twitter

Rainbow Auckland, a LGBTQI+ business and networking organisation, held a mayoral forum last night, with John Tamihere and Phil Goff topping the billing, joined by Craig Lord and comedian Tom Sainsbury, who's alter ego Fiona the wine critic is running.

Mr Tamihere was not asked in the formal proceedings, or in submitted questions, about his past comments which included opposition to gay marriage.

Organisers said they wanted the debate to be civil and for the candidates to feel they could come and be treated with respect and talk freely about the issues facing Auckland.

But Max Tweedie, the director of Auckland Pride, who was in the audience, said afterwards he wished Mr Tamihere had taken the chance himself.

"What would have been great is an acknowledgement of his past homophobic comments ... and if he is not acknowledging them, discussing them, apologising, then it is very fair for voters to assume he still holds those values," he said.

Asked later by RNZ, Mr Tamihere said he did not want to talk about his comments and he had already said many times that he had changed.

"We all have experiences, we all learn and we all change. If not, you just become an old, shitty bigot," he said.

But he would not answer directly whether he now supported gay marriage, saying he would not dignify the question with an answer.

Candidates were asked many questions about how they would support Auckland's rainbow community.

Mr Tamihere spoke about his understanding of Māori, of diversity, and how that helped him relate to other minority communities.

And he said he was there to learn about what the community wanted.

Mr Goff leveraged his past support of gay rights including going to the Big Gay Out and Pride Parades and voting for the 1986 Homosexual Law Reform Bill.

Craig Lord told the crowd he had always supported the rainbow community and they were "normal".

Mr Sainsbury said he was there as Fiona's manager, who gave wholehearted support to the community.

And she wanted to one-up Mr Tamihere's 18-lane harbour bridge policy, by building a 19-lane one in rainbow colours.

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