He led marches against the Civil Union Bill, blamed same-sex relationships for the Christchurch earthquakes and claimed "gay power" was taking over the world but, following his apology to the rainbow community last night, Brian Tamaki said he would be prepared to attend one of the premier events on the rainbow calendar.

Asked if he would be open to attending the Big Gay Out, the self-styled bishop of Destiny Church replied: "Why not?"

Sitting at his side at a press conference following a Destiny event where three members of the rainbow community spoke to a 2000-strong congregation, speeches that were followed by an apology from Tamaki to anyone from that community "that has been hurt" and a promise that there would be "no more social media comments from this church about you", Hannah Tamaki said her husband might not be welcome at the Big Gay Out.

"They might not even want him there, let's be honest."

Advertisement
Drag queen Miss Ribena ahead of Big Gay Out 2017. Destiny Church Brian Tamaki has said he would be prepared to go to the rainbow community event in future. File photo / Doug Sherring
Drag queen Miss Ribena ahead of Big Gay Out 2017. Destiny Church Brian Tamaki has said he would be prepared to go to the rainbow community event in future. File photo / Doug Sherring

Destiny is Pentecostal fundamentalist Christian and practises a prosperity gospel philosophy which promised earthly reward for those who worshipped God according to its strictures.

When asked by media if he believed homosexual activity was a sin, Tamaki said he still held to his "values and belief", but that didn't mean he couldn't love people whose lifestyle he disagreed with.

"I think we're getting more mature as a nation, especially after the events in Christchurch. We've got to be able to accept one another, first of all as humans, and our religions or lifestyles aside."

Last night's apology was not related to the new political party, Coalition NZ, which was launched at Destiny Church and is led by Hannah Tamaki, he said.

He'd begun thinking about it two years ago.

"I wanted to do it last year, but the church wasn't ready then so I prepared for this whole year ... this is for real."

He and his wife had asked their friend, PR consultant Jevan Goulter, who is gay, to help, and Goulter would continue to work with the two other members of the rainbow community who spoke at last night's event.

Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki and his wife, Hannah Tamaki, at the event last night where Tamaki apologised to the rainbow community. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki and his wife, Hannah Tamaki, at the event last night where Tamaki apologised to the rainbow community. Photo / Brett Phibbs

The move wasn't about getting votes for Coalition NZ, Tamaki said.

Advertisement

"If you think we did this to get the gay community to vote for us you're wrong. I don't think they will."

Tamaki said before last night's event 50 members of the rainbow community had been invited to attend and speak.

Aside from Goulter, two accepted the invite. Both were well-received by the congregation, with standing ovations given following their speeches.

James Laverty, who often performs in drag shows under the name Miss Chocolate Box, told the audience not everyone in the rainbow community agreed with his decision to attend, but he believed "you make change by coming together".

"Tonight is a good start".

Brian Tamaki receives a hug from James Laverty, a member of the rainbow community who accepted an invitation to speak to the Destiny Church congregation last night. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Brian Tamaki receives a hug from James Laverty, a member of the rainbow community who accepted an invitation to speak to the Destiny Church congregation last night. Photo / Brett Phibbs

He urged parents to "never close that door" on their children, describing himself as someone who ran away from his home country, Northern Ireland, "where there was only one choice - suicide", a comment that prompted gasps from the crowd.

He also thanked Hannah Tamaki for visiting Rainbow Youth this week.

Rainbow New Zealand trustee Jacquie Grant, who last crossed paths with Tamaki when she shouted "f*** you" at the Enough is Enough March against civil unions in 2004, also spoke.

She told her story of being arrested in 1959 in Sydney for being transsexual. She was jailed for three months and told of a friend also jailed who received electric shock treatment to her genitals and eventually died of a drug overdose.

No one chose to be trans or gay, it was not an easy life, she said.

She urged the congregation to think about what Jesus would
do — "Would he shun us? No".

Hannah Tamaki and Jacquie Grant prepare to embrace after Grant spoke to the Destiny Church congregation last night. Photo / Brett Phibbs
Hannah Tamaki and Jacquie Grant prepare to embrace after Grant spoke to the Destiny Church congregation last night. Photo / Brett Phibbs

After the event, Laverty and Grant — who both hugged Tamaki as he left the stage following his apology — spoke positively of the experience.

"It was more than I expected," Grant said.

"He made a pretty profound apology, that's a pretty good start ... it's time to move on. We've got an apology."

Laverty, who said he was "s*** my knickers" afraid before going to the Destiny event, described Tamaki's apology as "sincere".

"It's up to us how we move forward. We're definitely going to carry on the conversation."

Both said they were not given inducements by Destiny to attend.

An unexpected koha containing $200 each, opened in front of media, would be donated to Rainbow Youth, they said.