The founder of Auckland Pride Parade has called for the organisation's board to be replaced or removed, after its decision to ban police from wearing uniforms in next year's event.
"If the board is replaced, the parade will continue," says Gresham Bradley, telling The AM Show on Wednesday that next year's parade will be a "pale shadow of anything we have seen before" if the existing board members stay on.
The controversy traces back to a decision by the Auckland Pride Board two weeks ago to not allow New Zealand Police to wear uniforms at the 2019 Auckland Pride Parade - an annual march down Ponsonby Rd set to take place on 16 February next year.
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New Zealand Police Senior District Liaison Officer Tracy Phillips said police officers were extremely disappointed by the board's decision, telling Newshub at the time if police are not welcome in uniform, then "we're not going to force ourselves on anybody".
The board told police officers they must wear T-shirts instead of their uniforms, which is when Ms Phillips says she made the call that the New Zealand Police will no longer attend the parade. Mr Bradley says the request was "offensive".
Since then, things have gone from bad to worse. A community hui was held on Sunday by Auckland Pride to give people the chance to discuss the ban. But an attendee described the event as "incredibly tense" with a physical altercation breaking out.
Mr Bradley, currently chair of the Rainbow New Zealand Charitable Trust, says he's concerned about the future of the Auckland Pride Parade, which he established in 2013. Many have boycotted next year's event since the board's decision to ban cops wearing uniforms.
Rainbow New Zealand Charitable Trust announced on Tuesday is was pulling its support for the parade following the ban. The New Zealand Defence Force has also opted out, with a spokesperson saying it does not feel comfortable joining in an event that excludes other uniformed services.
Mr Bradley says the Auckland Pride Parade board will be challenged in a general meeting held in two weeks where members will vote on whether the board should remain or be dismissed. The removal of the board will require 75 percent of votes, he says.
"There are seven people on the board but there have been two resignations," he told The AM Show. "I know which way I'll be voting at the special general meeting."
"The only hope in many people's opinion is to dismiss the pride board which is constitutionally an option available to the membership," he added. "The members take this so seriously that this is now an active movement growing almost daily."
Nonetheless, the damage done to Auckland Pride Parade's reputation isn't irreversible, says Mr Bradley. If the board is replace or removed, he says it could go on as usual.
"I don't think the rainbow community needs to apologise, they have been engaging as positively as it is possible with the police, and the police response has also been really positive," he said.
"This calls into question the entire decision to ban the police marching in uniform."