Lincoln Tan

Lincoln Tan is the New Zealand Herald’s diversity, ethnic affairs and immigration senior reporter.

MPs throng to Big Gay Out

National and Labour leaders quick to court rainbow community in election year.

They came by the thousands in body paint, drag costumes and even rainbow-coloured onesies to celebrate their sexuality at New Zealand's largest gay pride event.

Being election year, politicians also flocked to yesterday's Big Gay Out at Coyle Park, Pt Chevalier, with an estimated 15,000 others.

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Prime Minister John Key arrived to a mixed reception, wearing a yellow polo shirt, with some voices shouting "we want Lorde, not you" as he made his way to the stage.

He was challenged to a game of beer pong, which he agreed to and had to down several cups in the process.

Labour leader David Cunliffe also took to the stage with several Labour MPs including Jacinda Ardern and Louisa Wall. Photo / Dean Purcell
Labour leader David Cunliffe also took to the stage with several Labour MPs including Jacinda Ardern and Louisa Wall. Photo / Dean Purcell

This was Mr Key's eighth time at the event, and he took to the stage with several National MPs including Nikki Kaye and Maurice Williamson, who last year made the Big Gay Rainbow speech that went viral online.

Mr Key reminded the audience that he was one of the MPs who voted for Labour MP Louisa Wall's Marriage Amendment Bill, which gave same sex couples the same rights of marriage as heterosexuals.

"We've fixed the economy, things are going well ... and not only did we not reverse any of the gay and lesbian rights in [my] six years as Prime Minister, I voted for gay marriage."

Mr Williamson said his Big Gay Rainbow speech made the news in 59 countries and over a billion people had seen the speech online.

About an hour earlier, Labour leader David Cunliffe also took to the stage with several Labour MPs including Jacinda Ardern and Louisa Wall. In his short speech, Mr Cunliffe said the ties between the Labour whanau and the gay and lesbian community were "deep and strong".

"Labour brought you the big three, homosexual law reform, civil union, marriage equality and there is more to do," he said.

Embattled Auckland Mayor Len Brown was received with a mix of cheers and jeers as he appeared on stage. He urged the crowd to attend the Auckland Pride Parade on Ponsonby Rd on February 22, which he said had the backing of the council. He said the council was also looking at the possibility of forming a gay, lesbian and transgender advisory group to better engage with the community.

Claire Southern and  her partner Kerrie Vasey. Photo / Dean Purcell
Claire Southern and her partner Kerrie Vasey. Photo / Dean Purcell

A lone protester stood in front of the stage, handing out flyers for a "Len Brown stand down" protest march also planned for February 22.

Big Gay Out, an annual free event, is now in its 15th year.

- NZ Herald

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