Sunday, February 22, 2015

Good and bad

Yesterday was Auckland’s Pride Parade (NZ Herald Video], the third and biggest of them. We were at a wedding and weren’t able to go, but it seemed that for the most part it was a roaring success. However, there were some things that might be viewed somewhat differently by some people.

This year, the New Zealand National Party, the right-of-centre party currently leading the NZ Government, took part in the parade for the first time (the other major party, the New Zealand Labour Party, has always participated in the parade). This is a really good thing. I’m a staunch Labour voter, having never voted for National, so when I applaud the party for taking part, I sincerely mean that it’s a great thing, and a sign that even the Right is moving forward.

However: Two of the National Party Members of Parliament who marched should not have been there: National Party List MPs Melissa Lee and Alfred Ngaro both voted against the marriage equality bill and have, so far, never said that they’ve changed their positions now that the bill is law.

Without a change of heart or an apology to LGBT New Zealanders, their taking part in a parade celebrating LGBT people—the very people they voted against!—is, at the very best, vile and rank hypocrisy. At worst, it smacks of crass political opportunism, a kind of political pink washing: Trying to cleanse their anti-gay records by appearing in a parade for the very people they voted against.

Ngaro’s presence was particularly galling because only a few months ago he was using the marriage equality bill to rile up rightwing voters to vote against Labour. Clearly he has not only NOT changed his views, but he’s actively anti-gay, which makes his presence in the parade an insult to all LGBT New Zealanders.

I say again: It’s good National finally decided to take part in the parade as Labour has done all along. National MP Nikki Kaye pushed the idea of a revived parade (years after the former HERO Parade folded), and she should be applauded. She also absolutely should have been there. But why have two anti-gay MPs? Were no pro-LGBT National MPs available? National REALLY needs to understand that sending MPs with an anti-gay voting record is as bad as not being there at all.

Add it all up, and while it was good that National finally joined the parade, Ngaro and Lee should have stayed home.

This year was also the first year that New Zealand Police were allowed to march in uniform, something that I would’ve thought was a major step forward in relations with the Police. However, trans activists didn’t see it that way, and they protested participation by the Police. One protestor was injured in what the protesters says was excessive force by the police. I hope that a full, open and honest enquiry will get to the truth.

So, this year’s parade was diverse, with a bit of controversy, some protest, a lot of heated passion—and a whole lot of glitter. Just the way I like it.

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