“I’ve loved every Pride Parade I have been lucky enough to walk in, but this one was particularly special.”
Jacinda Ardern has become the first prime minister of New Zealand to walk in Auckland Pride.
More than 25,000 people cheered as Arden marched in the Pride Parade alongside finance minister, Grant Robertson, and Labour MP, Louisa Wall, both of whom are gay.
Arden cut the rainbow ribbon to officially open the event, then spent the day dancing and taking selfies with pride-goers.
She wrote on Facebook, “I’ve loved every Pride Parade I have been lucky enough to walk in, but this one was particularly special. The streets were packed, and what an important message that sends about diversity and inclusiveness. Thanks to everyone who came!”
In an interview with TVNZ, Arden said she had marched “so many times” and said a PM should’ve participated “a while ago”.
“Ultimately this is a parade about diversity and inclusiveness. And I’m really proud of the work the team has done to make that real over the years and in our laws,” she said.
“As long as there are kids in New Zealand, if they are LGBTQI, if they have high levels of mental health issues or self harm, that tells us that we still have work to do.”
Shaughan Woodcock – producer of the parade – told The New Zealand Herald that Arden’s decision to participate in the march was a huge step forward for the country.
“I think the overall message is that we are being led by a progressive government, a government that stands for all groups not just some,” she said.
“It also sends a very clear message that New Zealand is leading the way around basic human rights and human rights for our rainbow community, and that it is time for the other countries to step up.”