Tonight the Rainbow Communities in Auckland have a chance to meet with the Pride Board to talk about the ban on police uniforms in the 2019 Auckland Pride parade.
The past week has shown a great deal of division and deep emotion over this decision, and it is one that I wrestled with.
My view has been that banning the police from marching in their uniforms is wrong.
This is because I believe that the participation of the armed services, and the police sends a very powerful message to the world that New Zealand values inclusion and diversity and shows how far our country has come in advancing human rights.
In saying this however, I am aware that not everyone benefits from this advance, and that as with most human endeavours, the application of such rights can be patchy and can even turn backwards for some. Others have simply never gained from any ‘advance’.
My personal and professional ethos is built around a passionate belief in human rights, fairness and politeness. When it comes to my work, be it interviews or writing, I try to make sure that it is fair, balanced and informed. I’m not perfect and can make mistakes but I do try very hard to be fair in my opinions and my work.
To be true to my ‘ethos’ then, I have, over the past week spoken with a variety of people in our communities and read a number of competing narratives online.
The conclusion I have drawn to date, is that we owe it to ourselves, our community and indeed our country to talk about the issues raised by the Auckland Pride Board’s decision and to do so in a spirit of fairness and openness.
We shouldn’t be afraid of discussing difficult topics and maybe even swallowing our ‘pride’ and really listen to all perspectives.
Our democracy is a wonderful yet flawed beast that is ever changing and faces many tests and challenges. By being courageous enough to talk about what we believe in, and being courageous enough to welcome view points we find uncomfortable means our democracy can actually be strengthened.
Tonight I will be going to the hui with a sense of excitement and with an open mind and a willingness to listen to the various view points.
I still believe that the police should be part of the parade and they should be in their uniforms, but I am willing to listen to the arguments that disagree with that viewpoint AND I give myself permission to change my mind based on what I hear tonight.
I hope that everyone will be respectful and genuinely listen to the concerns on all sides of the issue, and in particular those who are most vulnerable and marginalised in our society.
If you wish to attend the community hui it is at 7:30pm at the Grey Lynn Community Centre – 510 Richmond Rd, Grey Lynn.