Auckland Pride Parade sponsors are being accused of taking the easy option and pulling out.
Sponsors including SkyCity, Westpac, Vodafone, Fletcher and NZME deserted the annual event when organisers said police would not be allowed to march in uniform. A crowdfunding campaign supporting the event has already raised more than $13,000.
According to the Pride Board, police uniforms are banned from many LGBTQ-friendly events worldwide because of their historical association with repression against the LGBTQ community.
Campaign organiser Laura O'Connell Rapira can't believe the backlash.
"I just don't understand how genuine consultation could have happened that quickly to reach these decisions. So it's hard to say if it's indicative of a swell of people, or it's PR and marketing people who see a risk with being associated with Pride."
Ms O'Connell Rapira says fundraising will continue until the parade's fate is sealed. If the event is cancelled, those who donated will decide where the money goes.
She's surprised at how much has been raised already.
"I was quite afraid because the debate at the moment is so polarised and actually really ugly… I was a little bit scared we'd put this call out there and no one would respond."
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Pride Board chair Cissy Rock says the support is incredible.
"There were some loud voices against, but the number of voices that have joined in and said, 'Wow! Finally we are being heard,' I'm really happy about that."
Ms Rock says she never expected such massive backlash to the board's decision.
"I think the loudness and the speed of how the community reacted was not on my radar."
Ms Rock says it shows the event can survive without corporate help.
"It's letting us know that Pride can be led by the people. It's possible to have a Pride parade without corporates and it's looking like, for some people, that's a very pleasing idea."
The 2019 parade is scheduled for February 16.