24 Feb 2015

Group protests ANZ 'pinkwashing'

2:37 pm on 24 February 2015

A gay rights protest group has claimed responsibility for vandalising two Auckland police station and three ANZ bank branches overnight.

The vandalised Ponsonby ANZ branch in Auckland.

The vandalised Ponsonby ANZ branch in Auckland. Photo: Twitter / ANZ

The Ponsonby police station.

Ponsonby police station was splashed with paint. Photo: RNZ / Kate Newton

The group Queers Against Injustice last week also vandalised an ANZ ATM which had been decorated with rhinestones, rainbow patterns, and colourful paint for Auckland's Pride Parade.

This was one of four 'GayTM' machines around Auckland and Wellington commissioned in New Zealand as part of the bank's diversity programme, said ANZ chief financial officer and Pride Network executive sponsor Antonia Watson.

The group put up signs explaining 'pinkwashing'.

The group put up signs explaining 'pinkwashing'. Photo: Twitter / ANZ

The protest group has accused ANZ of 'pinkwashing': when businesses and institutions use the gay rights movement to distract from other unethical behaviour.

The chair of ANZ's Pride Network, Craig Bonnington, says the bank isn't trying to cash in on the gay rights movement.

"I think it's disappointing, from my perspective, knowing all that work that's gone on.

"We've been running the network now for eight years and there's a lot of good, genuine work that goes on, and it is all run by the staff, and I think that's why they are so gutted about it."

Craig Bonnington says he would be happy to meet Queers Against Injustice members to discuss their concerns.

ANZ's Mt Eden, Avondale and Ponsonby branches and the Ponsonby and Avondale police stations were covered in pink paint overnight.

Demonstrators at Saturday's parade clashed with policemen after breaking through the barriers to the route with a banner that read 'No Pride in Prisons.'

This was the first time in the event's history that a police contingent had marched in uniform as part of the parade.

The police have said they were disappointed about the actions of the group.

Auckland City's western area police commander, Inspector Jacqui Whittaker, said the activists were intolerant and ill-informed and it was disappointing they were directing their prejudices at the bank and the police.

Ms Whittaker says she'd welcome the chance to discuss the group's issues with them.

An ANZ spokesperson said the bank is speaking to the police about the vandalism, and will temporarily increase security at the branches that were targeted.