Around 10,000 people have turned out to the 20th anniversary of Auckland’s Big Gay Out.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern took to the stage at the event, speaking to the crowd, praising the LGBTI community on their efforts made to reduce HIV over the last six years.
Ms Ardern said the Government would work alongside the LGBTI community to help end HIV in New Zealand by 2025.
She also announced this year’s Budget would focus more around mental health.
Labour MP and former TVNZ broadcaster, Tamati Coffey, took the opportunity to announce to the crowd that he is expecting a baby with his partner Tim via a surrogate in July.
“This is a day where we all come together - all types of people under the rainbow umbrella. We have all kinds of modern families going on and represented here, so I applaud that,” Mr Coffey said.
Speaking with media, Ms Ardern said New Zealand must ensure schools and workplaces are inclusive for the LGBTI community.
The Prime Minister also acknowledged the Government needs to do more work in helping towards gender reassignment surgery.
“One of the issues is having the expertise available, and that’s something that in recent times we have overcome. Then there’s the resourcing question,” Ms Ardern said.
Finance Minister Grant Robertson said the Government is now working on ways to come up with funding to help support those in the transgender community.
“A very big waiting list has obviously built up over a number of years for gender reassignment surgery. Removing the cap means we can start to address that,” he said.
National Party Leader Simon Bridges attended his first Big Gay Out, telling media he has changed his views on homosexuality after voting against marriage equality in 2013.
“We have all moved on as a country. Marriage equality is working incredibly well and I wouldn’t support going back,” he said.
Chief Executive of the Aids Foundation, Jason Myers told 1 NEWS the Big Gay Out is a great opportunity for everyone in the rainbow community to celebrate diversity with their allies.
“It’s an amazing energy. There’s families, friends, allies all here enjoying themselves, and that’s what we always aim for,” he said.
Mr Myers also wants the event to promote safe sex and help those in the LGBTI community living with HIV.
“There is also a serious message underpinning this event and that is around HIV prevention and smashing the stigma that still exists with people living with HIV in New Zealand,” he said.
Mr Myers told 1 NEWS he hopes to see 20 more years of the Big Gay Out.
- By Ashleigh McCaull