Auckland: The Israeli Embassy in New Zealand says its presence in Pride Parade was not to make a political statement and that it is surprised there was a protest action against them, reports gaynz.com.
More than 50,000 people took part or watched the Auckland Pride Parade procession on February 22.
A group of gay protesters dressed in pink with placards and a bullhorn broke into the parade, criticizing the presence of the Israeli entry, what they call its ‘pinkwashing’ of Israeli attitudes to human rights in the Middle East and a lack of safety for people in Israeli-administered Palestine.
The Israeli embassy had entered the parade to promote Israel’s own Pride Parade in June.
“We were just there because we are proud of who we are, the fact that we are the only country in the Middle East where gay people are accepted. We were there to celebrate the gay community. We have a proud Israeli and Jewish gay community in New Zealand and in Israel,” says Embassy spokesperson Patricia Deen in the gaynz.com report.
Deen says the protesters actions were “inappropriate…. There is a time and a place for everything. I am not against protest and these people have the right also to speak their mind but to break into a parade was not an appropriate thing.”
Asked by GayNZ.com Daily News if it surprised her that there was protest when the Israeli Embassy decided to take a high-profile action like being in the Pride Parade, Deen replied “No. It doesn’t matter what we do or where we are there is always somebody to blame Israel for something. I was expecting this.”
She says she discussed possible protest with the parade organizers and they were all comfortable with the Israeli entry going ahead, gaynz.com reported.
Deen feels it is important to point out that the protest group were the only people who had an issue with the Israeli presence in the parade. “Even though we were being disrupted it was in the beginning of the parade. But through the whole parade we were being cheered, people were saying “Shalom.”
She said that apart from herself, all the participants in the Israeli parade entry were gay.