Media Release

1 February 2017

Decision re Department of Corrections participation in Auckland Pride Parade 2017

The Auckland Pride Board strongly believes that the Festival and the Auckland Pride Parade should be inclusive events which support diversity and advance equality for members of the rainbow communities and their allies. Organisations that seek to take part in the Auckland Pride Parade must be able to demonstrate that they are supportive of their rainbow staff, clients, stakeholders and all who are associated with them. The Department of Corrections is unique in that the criteria apply not only to its staff, but to those under its care, including those in prison.

In some circumstances, the Board has to take complex decisions where the desire for inclusion conflicts with the need to ensure that organisations taking part in Auckland Pride are supporting the rainbow communities.

The Board aims to be constructive when developing relationships with these stakeholders and this includes ongoing productive discussions with the Department of Corrections, which before the Auckland Pride Parade in 2016 committed to making progress in a number of areas that impact inmates in their care, in particular transgender prisoners.

However, we have seen no evidence that the promised Transgender Policy has been implemented and the Ombudsman Report in relation to the Provision, Access and Availability of Prisoner Health Services was particularly concerning. That report concludes that “The Department’s policy regarding transgender prisoners does not adequately reflect the expectation that transgender prisoners should be treated with dignity, nor does the policy adequately acknowledge prisoners’ gender identification.”

Therefore, the Board has unanimously agreed not to approve the Department of Corrections’ application to participate in the Auckland Pride Parade 2017.

We recommended that the Department withdraw its application in order to allow the organisation to preserve its mana, with a view to building a stronger relationship between the Department and Auckland Pride. The Board values the ongoing work undertaken by the Department of Corrections with regard to its staff, and their intentions to better support those under its care, and looks forward to providing whatever support it can to assist with the improvement of living conditions for LGBTIQ prisoners.

We recognise the work that rainbow and allied staff at the Department of Corrections do to support our communities in their care, and we are supportive of those that want to take part joining us on Saturday 25 February. A number of organisations have offered individual staff this opportunity. It is the organisation which we feel has not earned the right to participate on this occasion.

For any queries, please contact Auckland Pride Chair Kirsten Sibbit

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