18 Feb 2024

Christopher Luxon leaves Big Gay Out after heated protest

4:20 pm on 18 February 2024

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has abruptly left the Big Gay Out festival in Auckland's Point Chevalier after being confronted by Gaza protesters.

The annual Pride event is being held today in Coyle Park as a celebration for Rainbow communities and their allies.

At a media standup this morning, Luxon said he was looking forward to going to the Big Gay Out and felt comfortable there.

"I went there last year. I loved it. Talk to the Rainbow community and what are they fixated on at the moment? Rebuilding the economy, restoring law and order, and delivering better health and education."

Christopher Luxon and Nicola Willison are surrounded by protesters at the Big Gay Out

Christopher Luxon and Nicola Willis are surrounded by protesters at the Big Gay Out. Photo: Katie Scotcher / RNZ

On his arrival, however, Luxon was mobbed by attendees protesting trans rights and the war in Gaza.

He began his visit by speaking to supporters, but attendees quickly gathered and followed him around the festival for at least five minutes.

Protesters gather around Christopher Luxon and Nicola Willis at the Big Gay Out.

Protesters gather around Christopher Luxon at the Big Gay Out. Photo: Katie Scotcher / RNZ

RNZ political reporter Katie Scotcher said the exchanges became quite heated, with at least one attendee shouting directly in Luxon's face.

Protesters were chanting "free Palestine" and "blood on your hands".

Crowds at the Big Gay Out Coyle Park February 2024

Crowds gather around Luxon at the Big Gay Out in Coyle Park. Photo: Katie Scotcher / RNZ

After this morning's State of the Nation speech, Luxon had defended the coalition government's planned changes to sexuality and relationship education guidelines.

New Zealand First - one of the three coalition parties - had campaigned on removing "gender ideology" from the curriculum. The guidelines were first introduced in 2020 by then-NZ First MP and associate education minister Tracey Martin.

The changes have been described by academics as a "huge mistake".

"We will always have sex education in New Zealand schools. It's so critical, so important.

"Parents have a responsibility and a role to play in that as well."

The curriculum should be age-appropriate and parents needed to be consulted, Luxon said.

Schools had been interpreting the guidelines differently and there needed to be consistency in delivering the curriculum across the country.

An expert panel would be working on the changes to the guidelines, he said.

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