Bill English dodges politics at the Big Gay Out

Prime Minister Bill English says he got a "very friendly welcome and warm reception" at Sunday's Big Gay Out event, despite his voting record.

The devout Catholic voted against both civil unions in 2004 and gay marriage in 2013, but since come around to the idea.

"I can't tell you exactly the day or the hour," he told The AM Show. "The law has passed, everybody's getting on with their lives. People seem quite happy about it. People who were married are still married. It's best left as it is."

Unlike his predecessor John Key, who voted in favour of gay marriage, Mr English stayed off the stage.

"Why spoil it with politics? Generally if I go to community events, I avoid it if I can."

One potentially awkward moment arose when Mr English came across Joe Carolan, a union organiser and candidate in the Mt Albert by-election.

The self-described socialist asked Mr English if he could step in to help a group of Indian students faced with deportation after being scammed by education agents.

"He went from a defensive stance, 'Oh my god, it's Joe, what's he gonna do?' to a handshake at the end of it," Mr Carolan told Newshub.

Mr English listened intently, telling Mr Carolan there was a "pretty thorough process" in place.

From the farm to fabulous 

Mr English says he was actually a bit more nervous in the more traditionally masculine and National-friendly environment of the World Shearing Championships on Saturday, where the ex-farmer got to indulge in a bit of sheep-shearing himself.

"It's an audience of several thousand experts and you're up there by yourself," said Mr English. "It's a moment of honesty."

As for the Big Gay Out, Mr English says there were "lots of National voters there, which was great".