Saturday, November 10, 2018

Banning Police From Auckland Pride

The Auckland Pride Festival Parade has banned the Police and Corrections department marching in uniform in the 2019 parade.

The problem raised with the NZ police marching in Auckland in 2019 is not what happened at Stonewall 50 years ago or even the raid on the Wellington gay sauna 35 year ago but that while the top level of NZ police are currently making all the right noises, this is not happening at the operational level.

There are reports from transgender & non-binary people who have experienced high levels of transphobic mistreatment including persistent deadnaming (despite a legal name change), denial of access to a lawyer and physical assaults from the police in 2018.

This seems to be an endemic problem and what I remember of management theory would have it that when this happens there is a lack of will from the top to implement the policies they publicly espouse. There is an arrogance in the organisation that needs to be addressed.

We see many instances of this in many other areas too. In 2014 Police commissioner Mike Bush delivered a eulogy in which he praised the integrity of retired Detective Inspector Bruce Hutton -- the man who framed an innocent man for murder. In 2018 Wally Haumaha who had publicly supported the policemen accused of raping Louise Nicolas was promoted to Assistant Commissioner. Although neither of these are directly transgender issues they show the organisational arrogance going to the top.

Most people know very little about the case against Corrections but groups such as People Against Prisons Aotearoa have made a very strong case that their treatment of transgender prisoners is abysmal. To me banning them from Pride was a no-brainer.

Like the police, the top level of corrections make noises about supporting rainbow rights but that's as far as it goes. I really can't see them being able to fix themselves in a few years.

If the police want to be seen as supporting rainbow issues they need to implement changes in their organisation and ensure that the message about respecting rainbow rights is understood and implemented in the front line. That requires management will.

Auckland Pride is a celebration for Auckland's LGBTIQA+ people and we are not here to pinkwash anyone. Pride should reflect us and our true allies.

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