Destiny Church leader ’hijacked’ White Ribbon day

Brian Tamaki speaks to supporters in Auckland. - Photo: RNZ / Nita Blake-Persen

Destiny Church leader Brian Tamaki has been accused of "hijacking" the annual White Ribbon day, which aims to highlight family violence.

The anti-violence charity, White Ribbon, wrote to the church with concerns about their 'We Stand Because We Care' event held in Auckland on Saturday, specifically that Mr Tamaki's views on homesexuality did not fit their kaupapa.

"The inclusion of suicide awareness in the event is incompatible with the homophobic attitudes of Destiny's Church, and the statistical evidence that the LGBTQ community is over represented in suicide statistics," the letter said.

It requested Mr Tamaki not speak at the event arranged for White Ribbon Day today, saying it would have to withdraw support if he did so.

But Mr Tamaki ignored that request, and led hundreds of supporters in a hikoi through Auckland's Queen Street to Myers Park.

The charity's campaign manager Rob McCann said Mr Tamaki had used the White Ribbon brand to push Destiny Church's own messaging.

He said White Ribbon focused on ending male violence against women, but that was not the core focus of Mr Tamaki's event, which looked at a 'smorgasbord' of issues.

"At the heart of our campaign about respectful relationships is equality, so when you're pushing that the man is the head of the household, those things actually are counter to the research that we have and counter to our campaign about respectful relationships.

"Having Brian Tamaki involved is just a step too far because of the way in which they exclude the gay community."

Last year Mr Tamaki was widely criticised for blaming earthquakes in New Zealand on "gays, sinners, and murderers" in a sermon.

But today, he rejected the accusation that he was homophobic.

"I've got many gay friends, I've never hated anybody that's of a different sexual orientation, but I do have beliefs.

"My beliefs and my opinions should be freely heard by anybody, anywhere, that I am free to make a statement ... I love those people but I don't have to agree with those people."

Speaking at the event, Mr Tamaki also called on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and the government to work with Destiny Church to combat issues around family violence and high suicide rates.

"Jacinda, we want to work with the government. We don't want to be pushed aside."

He said the church was often ostracized from society.

"Over the last 38 years me and my wife and my family have helped thousands of people.

"We sponsor many South Auckland children, we give thousands and thousands of dollars to our own ministry because we don't use a single dollar ... All that we do is self-funded."

Two of Destiny Church's charities will be removed from the Charities Register next month because of their "persistent failure" to meet annual return obligations.

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