Auckland Council in talks with Rainbow Tick over Feminism 2020 event

Auckland Council has had a Rainbow Tick since 2016.
Auckland Council has had a Rainbow Tick since 2016. Photo credit: AAP

By Murphy of RNZ

Auckland Council's handling of an event hosted by a group described as anti-trans will not be reviewed by Rainbow Tick until its re-certification period rolls around.

Speak Up For Women's controversial Feminism 2020 event was held in both Auckland and Wellington late last year, sparking a backlash from rainbow communities.

The event with the tagline "the feminists they don't want you to hear, uncensored", featured Canadian guest speaker Meghan Murphy, who was banned from Twitter for anti-trans tweets that violated the platform's hateful conduct policy.

Described by critics as anti-trans, Speak Up For Women campaigns against the inclusion of trans women in sport and against sex self-identification on birth certificates.

Feminism 2020 was booked at Auckland Council facility Studio One Toi Tū in Ponsonby, but was later moved to its Western Springs Garden Community Hall facility, with the council citing safety reasons and fear of protests.

The venue change came just days before Massey University cancelled the group's booking at its Wellington campus, saying it was the only way to eliminate the risk to health and safety and not be in breach of its obligations.

In October, then-acting programme director of Rainbow Tick Martin King told Stuff if the event was to go ahead at Massey University it would likely trigger a review of its Rainbow Tick certification. The university has had a tick since 2016. The event was instead held at Parliament.

During her speech at Parliament, Meghan Murphy made statements critics describe as anti-trans, while asserting she is not transphobic.

Auckland Council has had a Rainbow Tick since 2016. But the event in one of its facilities did not trigger an immediate review, rather Rainbow Tick programme director Beatrice Clarke said the organisation would wait until the council was due for re-certification.

"We are in conversation with Auckland Council surrounding the Speak Up For Women Feminism 2020 event, and will continue our conversation with them to fulfil their commitment to LGBTTQIA+ safety and inclusion as part of our certification process," she said.

Rainbow Tick organisations are required to go through a re-certification process every two years.

Auckland Council has been contacted for comment.

Clarke would not say whether any Rainbow Tick organisations had failed to be re-certified or had lost their tick since May 2019, when former employees of Rainbow Tick organisations revealed they felt unsafe in their workplaces in which transphobia and homophobia were commonplace. No organisations had lost their tick prior to May.

She declined to specify whether any changes had made to the Rainbow Tick certification process since May, instead saying the organisation was established with a continuous improvement approach.

"The assessment tools are regularly updated to stay in line with best practice. As always, the details are being worked through our member organisations," she said.

Clarke declined a request for an interview.

Change of leadership at Rainbow Tick

Meanwhile the Founder of Rainbow Tick, and former programme director, Michael Stevens, resigned this month.

In an email announcing Stevens' departure, provided by Rainbow Tick, Kāhui Tū Kaha EA and board secretary Vivienne Kennedy said after nearly six years Stevens was looking for a change in focus.

"Michael, with our support, was the architect and developer of the programme, and also the sole person delivering Rainbow Tick for several years," Kennedy said.

In July 2019, Rainbow Tick refreshed its Facebook page, removing all content that had been posted prior to this. In the same month, Martin King became acting programme director before Beatrice Clarke was promoted to the position in October.

Rainbow Tick is a service of Ngāti Whātua organisation Kāhui Tū Kaha. The organisation's 2019 annual report showed Rainbow Tick accounted for 2 percent of its total revenue of $16.4 million.