Anti-Israel activists disrupt New Zealand gay pride parade

Police removed several activists from the gay pride parade in New Zealand who broke through barricades to protest Israel’s entry.

Saying they were criticizing Israel’s “pinkwashing” of human rights, a handful of protesters dressed in pink and bearing placards protesting “Israeli apartheid” tried to approach the float at the beginning of the parade in Auckland on Feb. 22. The float was organized by Israel’s embassy in the capital.

Patricia Deen, the embassy’s spokeswoman, said, “We were just there because we are proud of who we are, the fact that we are the only country in the Middle East where gay people are accepted.”

Deen also told GayNZ.com, “Through the whole parade we were being cheered, people were saying ‘shalom.’ ”

Meanwhile, a group of 40 activists traveled from Auckland to Wellington to urge a boycott of the Batsheva Dance Company, which was performing at the New Zealand Festival for the first time. They were met by a group of pro-Israel demonstrators led by David Zwartz, the former honorary Israeli consul.

At least five ticket holders decided not to attend the acclaimed dance troupe’s performance, according to local media. — jta