Scott Yeoman is a NZ Herald reporter

Protesters bring Pride Parade to a halt

Protesters brought the Pride Parade to a halt on Ponsonby Road earlier this evening.

The group were protesting against the appearance of Police and Corrections staff in the annual parade, citing alleged abuse of transgender inmates as a reason why the uniformed officers shouldn't be allowed to take part in the march.

Dancing with the Stars judge Stefano Olivieri tries to talk to demonstrators at Pride Parade. Photo / Norrie Montgomery
Dancing with the Stars judge Stefano Olivieri tries to talk to demonstrators at Pride Parade. Photo / Norrie Montgomery


Auckland mayoral candidate Mark Thomas tweeted a photo of protesters across Ponsonby Rd, with a message: "Protest in Western Park holding up #PrideParade. Pride halted for 30 minutes so far at Picton St".

The Pride Parade restarted about 7.25pm, after about one hour of disruptions.

The protesters then sprinted towards the Parade to try and gain entry to the road another way.

Police followed them and blocked them at another entrance.

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A few protesters accessed the road and were apprehended by police to cheers from those lining the streets on Ponsonby Rd.

Judith Collins and the Police have marched straight past the protesters.

One policeman could be heard saying: "We're just going to carry on".

A protester who tried to get onto the street was grabbed by a member of security, who aggressively removed her from the road.

An argument then ensued.

Security removed a protester from the road. Photo / Scott Yeoman
Security removed a protester from the road. Photo / Scott Yeoman

A nearby policeman was quick to tell the member of security to move on.

A group of about 10 police then removed the last group of protesters on the road.

They pushed the group through the barriers and onto the sidewalk.

The protesters had gathered at Karangahape Rd before the Pride Parade began at Ponsonby's Three Lamps.

Police form a line to stop the protesters at the Pride Parade. Photo / Daniel Hines
Police form a line to stop the protesters at the Pride Parade. Photo / Daniel Hines

The group were chanting: "Police are violent, we won't be silent."

They stopped the parade near the corner of Hopetoun St and Ponsonby Rd as a result.

Police and security formed a barrier stopping the protesters from entering the road.

There were not more than 50 protesters and those involved in the Parade were blasting music to drown them out.

A police spokeswoman said everything was under control at the moment.

Demonstrators at Pride Parade.  Photo / Norrie Montgomery
Demonstrators at Pride Parade. Photo / Norrie Montgomery


"Protesters are trying to hamper the process of the parade but we're just talking to them and continuing to monitor the situation.

"We are negotiating with them and trying to get them to protest safely."

She said no arrests had been made, and she was unsure of the nature of the protest.

She believed a small group had entered the Pride Parade from the side of Karangahape Rd, but at this stage they were not stopping the procession.

Judith Collins leads the police in the Pride Parade. Photo / Steven McNicholl
Judith Collins leads the police in the Pride Parade. Photo / Steven McNicholl

Judith Collins lead the New Zealand Police contingent at the Parade.

Judith Collins told the Herald on Sunday that she was leading the Police at the Parade to support them in celebrating gay pride.

"But also Police are very much part of the community. They love diversity, they're embracing it and I'm very proud to support them in doing that."

When asked about the protest aimed at the involvement of uniformed Police and Corrections at the Parade, she said: "I actually think it's really important everyone just celebrate today.

"It's 30 years since the Homosexual Law Reform Act came thorough and I think let's just celebrate that and have a good time."

The Pride Parade celebrates it's 30th year along Ponsonby Road. Photo / Steven McNicholl
The Pride Parade celebrates it's 30th year along Ponsonby Road. Photo / Steven McNicholl


Lexie Matheson, an AUT lecturer in events management is an activist for transgender prison rights, is at the scene of the protest on K Rd.

She said the 'No Pride in Prisons' rally had begun as an hour of speeches and between 400 and 500 people were moving along K Rd towards Ponsonby Rd peacefully.

"Traffic is patient and largely supportive. The cops have arrived."

Protesters disrupt the 2016 Pride Parade. Photo / by Scott Yeoman
Protesters disrupt the 2016 Pride Parade. Photo / by Scott Yeoman

She said the march was non-confrontational and protesters aimed to raise awareness of the mistreatment of trans women in men's prisons and the Pride Parade's allowing cops and Corrections to march in uniform.

She said it was unlikely that marchers and the Pride Parade would meet.

Spokeswoman for the protest group No Pride in Prisons, Emilie Rakete, said they were there to protest the involvement of Police and Corrections, which she said were "primarily racist, violent institutions".

She said her group had been in contact with two trans women in the past four months who had been raped while in custody.

Rakete said this was a direct result of policies introduced by Judith Collins, namely double-bunking and over crowding.

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When asked about Collins' appearance at the Parade today, she said: "Yeah, she's not our f*****g friend. She's violent - these are violent institutions."

"This is obviously going to be a really divisive issue because some people are happy with how things are at the moment. Some of us recognise that these institutions are extremely violent.

"So some people were less than happy to see us, and some people were really happy to see us."

Thousands turned out for the parade, with the sun shining and all the colours of the rainbow out in full force.

Protesters at the Pride parade. Photo / Steven McNicholl
Protesters at the Pride parade. Photo / Steven McNicholl

Some of the people taking part in the Pride Parade approached the protesters.

One man bearing rainbow coloured flags shouted: "You should be ashamed of yourselves".

To which one protester replied: "Ashamed? Why should we be ashamed for standing up for human rights?"

Up to 20,000 people were expected on Ponsonby Rd for what is the highlight of the Auckland Pride Festival -- two weeks of events celebrating the city's rainbow community.

Fran Wilde cut the rainbow ribbon to start the parade.

Speaking to the Herald on Sunday beforehand, she said the scale of Auckland's Pride Parade was a reflection of how society had changed over the years.

Auckland's Pride Parade. Photo / Scott Yeoman
Auckland's Pride Parade. Photo / Scott Yeoman

"I think it's a reflection of what's happened actually. The Parade is a reflection of what's happened in society in 30 years."

She said you could not have had anything like it even 20 years ago.

"But now everybody wants to be a part of it, which is great."

Wilde also noted the changing demographic of the Parade.

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"I think it's good there's a lot of young people here, and families. That's really good. I mean, this is kind of almost middle New Zealand, isn't it? And that's how it should be.

"It would never have been like that. When we were fighting for legislation, if you were a gay man you were a criminal."

Wilde was the first female mayor of Wellington and fronted the 1985/86 Parliamentary campaign to decriminalise homosexuality.

Braden Grace, 27, and Phoenix Adamson, 30, came all the way from Hamilton to attend.

Grace said he was there to celebrate his own humanity and to spread love and joy for uniqueness in New Zealand.

"To celebrate our fabulous communities," Adamson added.

Parade producer Nick Davion said earlier today that about 60 quirky and colourful floats had been created and the fine weather meant Aucklanders would surely flock to join in the festivities.

A talking point of this year's event is the re-forming of pop-girl group TrueBliss, who got together on the popular television show Popstars in 1999.

The Auckland Pride Parade, celebrates it's 30th year along Ponsonby Road. Photo / Steven McNicholl
The Auckland Pride Parade, celebrates it's 30th year along Ponsonby Road. Photo / Steven McNicholl

Mr Davion said the five entertainers were really looking forward to participating.

"We've spoken to the girls. They're over the moon. They're absolutely thrilled and excited. Certainly there's a lot of excitement about the re-forming."

People enjoying Auckland's Pride Parade. Photo / Scott Yeoman
People enjoying Auckland's Pride Parade. Photo / Scott Yeoman

Patrick Haggerty, 71, and Julius Broughton, 74, were travelling around New Zealand when they heard about the Pride Parade in Auckland.

The couple are from near Seattle, Washington in the United States and have been together for 30 years.

"We came for a month and found out gay pride was happening when we were here, so decided we had to be in Auckland on the 20th. So we rearranged our trip," Haggerty said.

He said it was important and fun to be here and that they wouldn't have missed it.

"It's a fabulous opportunity, we didn't know we were going to have this opportunity and it's really great fun and fabulous."

Broughton said everyone knows someone who is gay and lesbian and so should embrace it.

"They might not know it, but they do. Whether it's a brother, a sister, a cousin, an uncle, a neighbour, or a church member."

Haggerty added: "It doesn't matter who you are and what you do, you can still celebrate gay pride. Anybody can celebrate gay pride."

Haggerty was joined at the parade by his nephew Damon Haggerty, 46, and nephew's wife Teresa, 44.

Patrick Haggerty, 71, and Julius Broughton, 74 have been together for 30 years. Photo / Scott Yeoman
Patrick Haggerty, 71, and Julius Broughton, 74 have been together for 30 years. Photo / Scott Yeoman

The couple - from Portland, Oregan - are also travelling around New Zealand and came along to the Parade to support their uncles.

Damon wore a sign saying "I love my gay uncles, but not that way".

- NZ Herald

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