New Zealand LGBTI Awards Organisers Respond to Community Concerns

New Zealand LGBTI Awards organisers have responded to the controversy around their award night.

We have heard elements of the LGBTI community loud and clear. The perception that there is a lack of transparency is extremely regrettable and in no way reflects the good faith in which we strive to operate. We have communicated with many people and organisations around New Zealand who do stand behind our kaupapa, we’ve taken on plenty of feedback and will continue to do so. The event has been evolving constantly, therefore in earlier conversations, details around sponsors, judges etc were still works in progress. We are not a big overseas corporate trying to make money – it is all about creating a celebration, and exclaiming loudly that our community is one to be celebrated for its individuality and strengths. At the core is a two-person team of Suran and Silke, just the two of us, working on this mostly in our own time alongside paid work, with occasional support from interns and other volunteers. We have done almost everything ourselves. Just like others in our community, we give our time because we believe and we have a vision. We know we have not found the perfect model yet, and we have learnt we could have done better, but we have done our best, especially in our efforts to engage with the community in recent months.

We chose to fundraise for a charity on the night of the event as it raises profile as well as money, and it negates the very likely outcome that a donation from profit would be non-existent as at best we will break even. On limited funding and resource, we are doing this because we have seen the incredible impact of the awards in both the UK and Australia and really want to see such a progressive event, with global implications, take place in New Zealand. Regarding the nominations process, without dedicated communications people, sometimes messages/queries have slipped through the net and there has been the occasional mistake in the administration of the nominees – next year there will be software in place which eases the process considerably.

We believe our community is a powerful economic force and expressing our power, being heard and yes, seen as such is vital to the place of LGBTI people in politics, in sport, at work and in wider society. We know that young people report having few New Zealand LGBTI role models and that many people still don’t feel comfortable being out at work. New Zealand is a progressive country and we believe these Awards create a public platform which helps us move from a place of tolerance to one of celebration.

It has worked in Australia and the UK, creating role models, celebrating allies and most importantly, reaching an audience outside the rainbow community – to spread the message of acceptance and equality. We want our brethren in NZ to feel the love too. We have the means and are delighted to work with you to celebrate the achievements of the LGBTI community and its allies in NZ.