Defence Force chiefs walk in Wellington Pride Parade

rainbow tank
Not everyone was happy about the tank in rainbow flags. Photo credit: NZ Defence Force

The Defence Force has made an unprecedented move, with chiefs marching in a Pride Parade.

Air Marshal Kevin Short walked in the Wellington parade yesterday, to mark the Defence Force celebrating 25 years of supporting the LGBTQ community.

It is also one of the few times it has happened globally.

Short says it is in remembrance of those who have left over the years because they did not always feel safe, welcome or supported.

The Defence Force began allowing openly homosexual men and women to join in 1994, after the passage of the Human Rights Act in 1993.

"Knowing we have the support from the very top is encouraging and empowering and sets the tone for an organisation that values all of its people, no matter what point of difference might exist," said Squadron Leader Stu Pearce, leader of the Defence Force's LGBTQ peer group OverWatch.

Chief of Defence Force Air Marshal Kevin Short with other NZDF personnel.
Chief of Defence Force Air Marshal Kevin Short with other NZDF personnel. Photo credit: NZDF

Chief of Army Maj Gen John Boswell, Chief of Air Force Air Vice-Marshal Andrew Clark and Commander of Joint Forces Rear Adm James Gilmour also marched in the parade.

Not all attendees were happy with their presence however, with mixed reaction on social media to the presence of a tank decked out in rainbow flags.

"The tank [in] the middle of the Pride parade was an interesting touch," one person wrote on Twitter.

"Who thought this was an okay thing to do?" asked another. 

The Defence Force opted out of the Auckland parade after police were told they couldn't wear uniforms.