12 Feb 2017

PM hits Big Gay Out

5:21 pm on 12 February 2017

The Prime Minister Bill English made his first appearance at Big Gay Out in Auckland today.

Prime Minister Bill English at Big Gay Out in Auckland.

Prime Minister Bill English at Big Gay Out in Auckland. Photo: RNZ / Sally Murphy

He spent an hour meeting event-goers and touring the stalls, but did not make a speech like his predecessor, John Key, often did.

Mr English stood by his decision, saying he did not want to bring politics into what is a fun family day out.

"There's plenty of time for discussions about the political and health issues facing the community.

"People want a day off politics, I am a new prime minister, I am doing things a bit differently," Mr English said.

This year's event was sponsored by the Ending HIV campaign, which aims to prevent all new HIV transmissions in New Zealand by 2025.

Big Gay Out in Auckland 12 February 2017

Photo: RNZ / Sally Murphy

Mr English listened to The Auckland Regional Sexual Health Service talk about a drug called Prep, which can prevent HIV establishing an infection.

The service, and The New Zealand AIDS Foundation, want the drug - which will undergo a pilot programme this year - made readily available for New Zealanders.

Mr English said the government already paid for about 20 drugs relating to HIV and Pharmac had the final decision on which ones were available.

"The AIDS Foundation has been facing similar constraints to other public servants, but they do a great job, I know we have low HIV rates compared to other countries."

Mr English attracted people of all ages asking for photos.

"I feel very welcome, just like any other event I would expect different political views and criticism, but it's a good day out."

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