Punks, topless lesbians, a gay Maori performance artist and a man wearing a bishop’s hat and Brian Tamaki mask faced off against up to 15,000 Christians in Auckland’s Queen St yesterday.
The colourful scenes played out over two hours as the Christians, led by Destiny Church‘s Brian Tamaki, Peter Mortlock of City Impact Church and Paul de Jong, of the Christian Life Centre, marched for family values. A group of about 200 counter-demonstrators called for tolerance and diversity in society. “We don’t need cult leaders in New Zealand, and we certainly don’t need a cult leader like Brian Tamaki,” yelled student John Young, 34.
Warwick Gilmore and his children came from Tauranga to take part.
“This is not my scene. I’ve never marched before in my life and it aggrieves me that I have to do it, but I feel like I have to make a stand. Moderates like me are being pushed into this, it’s like the basics (of society) are being redefined,” he said.
National Front youth members, one wearing a balaclava, walked next to Destiny members.
There were clashes but no arrests as police pushed the counter-demonstrators back up Queen St. Police later charged one woman, Emma Wills, with offensive behaviour after she spent the entire protest topless.
Performance artist Mika stood in front of the marchers, holding a “flower of love”. By noon the crowd had marched the 2.5km to Myers Park.
Protester Wills, 20, and friend Valerie Morse, 33, stormed the stage and kissed. They were quickly removed and lay on the ground as about 15 Destiny bodyguards stood over them.
“Christians hear me. You are one of the largest voting blocks in the country, yet you are one of the most under-represented in places of influence. It’s time for you to make your stand.”