LGBT members of New Zealand’s armed forces will march in uniform for the first time in this year’s Auckland Pride Parade.
This week New Zealand Defense Force’s OverWatch LGBT support network announced that it had signed up for an official entry in the parade and that members would be marching in uniform – something that Auckland Pride organizer Jonathan Smith told the New Zealand Herald he welcomed.
‘I’m sure they’re going to be the crowd favorite,’ Smith said.
‘I can’t say we’re the first pride parade in the world to have a defense force marching, but we’re definitely one of the very few where they’re actually permitted to march in uniform.’
In comparison LGBT liaison officers from the New Zealand Police can participate but not in uniform.
This year’s Auckland Pride is the first to be held in 12 years after the event got into financial trouble in 2001.
Openly LGBT personnel have been able to serve in New Zealand’s military since 1993 when the country’s Human Rights Act was passed, banning discrimination against LGBT people.
The New Zealand Defense Force launched OverWatch in January of last year to provide peer support for LGBT personnel and to provide guidance and information to colleagues and superiors of LGBT personnel and to Defense Force leadership.
The decision to allow New Zealand military personnel to march in uniform in the Auckland Pride Parade comes just weeks after it was announced that Australian military personnel would be allowed to march in uniform in the Sydney Mardi Gras parade for the first time.