Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki has fired back at claims he is “homophobic”.
Tamaki defended himself at the Man Up rally in Auckland today.
Earlier today motorcyclists and pedestrians made their way up Queen St to Myers Park for the event, attracting a sea of onlookers, curious tourists and bike enthusiasts alike along the way.
About 100 motorcyclists cruised up Queen St, led by Tamaki.
Between 1000 and 2000 people congregated at Myers Park, where a number of speakers addressed the crowd – including Tamaki and his wife Hannah. People held banners and wore t-shirts saying: “Raising fathers to save our children”, and other slogans.
The event was billed as supporting White Ribbon Day today.
However, yesterday White Ribbon pulled its support from the event, saying opinions spouted by Tamaki in the past did not align with its values. He specifically referred to “homophobic remarks” made by Tamaki and “the homophobic attitudes of Destiny Church”.
Defending himself from criticism that he was “homophobic”, Brian Tamaki told the 2000-strong crowd at the Man Up rally that he isn’t anti-gay.
“I got many gay friends, I’ve never hated anybody who has a different sexual orientation,” he said.
“But I do have beliefs, and my beliefs and my opinion should be freely heard by anybody and anywhere.”
Tamaki believed he was free to make statements that were not pro-gay.
“I love those people, but I don’t have to agree with those people,” he said.
“And because you disagree doesn’t make us haters. We hold our principle, we hold on to what we believe.”
Tamaki led the “We stand because we care” hikoi riding a Harley Davidson from the bottom of Queen St.
Most who took part in the march were members or relatives of people linked with the Destiny Church.
However a few onlookers, including a couple of German tourists who were Harley Davidson enthusiasts, also joined in.
The hikoi marched up Queen St to Myers Park, and was greeted by a live band as it arrived.
Caine Warren, National Director Man Up NZ, said the rally wasn’t a protest but an event to bring awareness.
“We are bringing an awareness that there are solutions…and Man Up is fast becoming a major solution,” Warren said.
A motorcade of a few hundred Harley Davidson motorcycles and classic cars was also part of the hikoi.
Rob McCann, White Ribbon campaign manager, said We Stand Because We Care was supposed to be a community event, but appeared to have been “taken over” by Destiny Church’s Man Up New Zealand campaign.
“We thought it was organised by the community,” Mr McCann told Newshub. “They’re using the White Ribbon name for purposes we don’t approve of,” he said.
McCann added: “In light of these concerns, it is not possible for White Ribbon to support an event that aligns us with Man Up, Destiny Church and Brian Tamaki.”
However, Warren said: “I don’t see any reason why White Ribbon should pull out.
“All I can say to that is we’re on the same team when it comes to a stand against violence towards our women and our families,” he told Newshub.
“We’ve got statistics, we’ve got stories that prove Man Up Tu Tangata is actually an effective programme to turn violent men into good, healthy, loving, caring men.”
Yesterday Tamaki hit back at White Ribbon, in a post on Facebook accusing White Ribbon of engaging in “nasty” behaviour.
“To criticise and talk like you and others do might suggest to me White Ribbon… may need some Man Up sessions themselves,” he posted.
He also posted saying the We Stand Because We Care march was not the same as the church’s Enough is Enough campaign in 2004.
“That was then.. this is now,” he said. “No relationship between the two.”
Hannah Tamaki and Man Up New Zealand also waded in, posting photos of 2015 and 2017 White Ribbon award winners Caine Warren and Nikita Kaiui Tukinga from the church.
“Gee. look at the winner of White ribbon. do they now hv to give them back.because u judge them in their rights, white ribbon dnt knw how to stand 2gtha, regardless of beliefs & convictions. So the families 2moro see ur discrimination. over a Man. U need 2 MANUP (sic),” Hannah Tamaki posted on Twitter.