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Defend Diversity Protested Destiny Rally

Defend Diversity Protested Destiny Rally

A diverse crowd of 200 protesters including Fa'fa fine, gay, lesbian, straight and christian, joined under the banner "Defend Diversity" to support multiculturalism and minorities rights and to challenge the message of intolerance behind the veil of 'Family Values' held by the Destiny Church led march.

"The Destiny Church cult and its supporters want to create the illusion that they are on the defence. They would have us believe that "traditional family values" are under attack through the establishment of civil unions and that 'marriage has been rendered meaningless'. The truth is that no one is forced to enter a civil union, nor is anyone being prevented from entering a traditional marriage - except of course - gays and lesbians" said social justice activist, Simon Oosterman.

The counter-march started in front of the Brian Tamaki led march until they were pushed forward by police. The counter-protesters were forced to move approximately 100 metres in front of the other march when the Police attempted to remove the protesters from the street.

"Our message is about our right to express ourselves and stand up for what we believe in. We don't need a permit for freedoms that are secured under our Bill of Rights. The right to assembly is an important part of the right for people to express themselves. Once we realised that we were having our right to assembly being removed we sat down until we got it" said Pita, a Maori activist.

As the protest moved on, Police continually pushed counter-demonstrators up Queen street continuing their attempt to remove the protesters from the street. Several people were pushed to the ground and stepped on by other protesters who were being forced to continue walking.

At the Town Hall the counter-protesters were hosed by a member of the neo-Nazi group National Front, who were also present at the march with a Swastika banner that led the march at one point.

Once the demonstrators reached Myers park for the 'Defend the Legacy' sermon, security guards from Destiny Church attempted to stop the counter-march from entering. Once inside, police pushed the smaller group into a secluded area, blocked in by thousands of Legacy supporters. The minority group was kept from moving whilst the Legacy group could move freely and stand amongst the Diversity protest. One Diversity protester was arrested for allegedly blocking a Legacy banner whilst multiple Destiny placards continued to be held in front of the smaller group.

"During their sermon we were verbally excluded from their definition of a family - but we are family too! We are defending diverse family systems that have evolved seperatly across cultures and throughout history, providing much of the rich multiculturalism that is New Zealand" said Cynthia, a lesbian mother of two. "Even though we are a minority, it only took a small group of people to get their message across today" she concluded.

"The real issue today is the violence that the message of bigotry spreads in society. The young gay and lesbian teenagers who commit suicide are the real victims of the anti-gay and the intolerance message that Destiny and their supporters spread. Is this the legacy groups like Destiny want to defend?" said Julia, a Christian supporter.

At the end of the Destiny led service the Defend Diversity protest returned to the streets and marched up to join the family-safe 'Don't Hate - Celebrate' festival at the Auckland University.

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