New Zealand Police has been honoured at the New Zealand LGBTI Awards, as debate continues about the Auckland Pride board excluding uniformed officers from next year's parade.
Held on Thursday night in Auckland, the awards aim to "draw attention to those LGBTI people and straight allies who are standing up to further advance LGBTI equality in New Zealand", according to awards' director, Silke Bader.
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The cops picked up Organisation of the Year, while senior district liaison officer Tracy Phillips was awarded Corporate and Social Ally.
The organisation award celebrated "brands that have successfully promoted inclusivity and support for the LGBTI community", while Ms Philips' honour was for not only supporting LGBTI initiatives, but creating change within her organisation.
Ms Phillips has been the face of the police during the fallout of the Auckland Pride board's decision to ban uniformed police officers from marching in next year's parade.
Ms Phillips said police were disappointed and would not march at all if they could not participate in their uniform.
"Police want to be visible to our rainbow community so that they can feel safe. I see marching in T-shirts as a giant backwards step."
The Auckland Pride board said the decision was made following "a series of community feedback sessions, including the 2018 AGM and community hui series held in venues across Auckland".
"These discussions indicated that whilst there is goodwill towards the NZ Police, as an institution they do not currently meet the degree of safety and awareness of intersectionality required by our rainbow communities."
Board chair Cissy Rock said awarding the police was out of step with the community.
"From what I have been reading on social media, many people are just really disregarding [the awards] as anything to do with our community," she said.
Responses on the awards' Facebook page said the police's win was "disrespectful to victims of police brutality".
"This is disgraceful. I welcome the police to up their game but this is completely inappropriate in the context of current conversations," said one user.
But another welcomed the win, and congratulated the police on how "inclusive and diverse you really are".
Other Organisation of the Year nominees were Fletcher Building, The Warehouse Group, Rainbow Lifestyle Protection and 298 Youth Health Centre.
Those up against Ms Philips included Police Commissioner Mike Bush, WorkSafe New Zealand CEO Nicole Rosie and LGBTQ advocate Jeremy Faumina.
Labour MP Lousia Wall won in the politician category, days after a tape was released of Ms Wall saying so-called trans-exclusionary radical feminists (TERFS) were not welcome at the pride parade.
Other winners on the night included The Topp Twins, who won the Lifetime Achievement Award, and Lucy Lawless for Local Icon.
Diversity was added as a police value in 2015, and empathy and community were key themes of the police's 2017 recruitment video. A rainbow-themed police car was revealed earlier this year to celebrate diversity.
The Auckland Pride Parade will take place on February 16 next year in Ponsonby. Since the decision to ban uniformed police, other organisations including the Defence Force, the Rainbow New Zealand Charitable Trust, SkyCity, and Vodafone have pulled out.