Open Letter to London LGBT Pride on UKIPs inclusion
CN Lester and I have drafted an open letter to the Board and Senior Team of Pride in London about their behaviour over UKIP’s inclusion.
If you’re interested in signing (as a group or organisation) or know of people who would be interested in signing, please let me know – you can email me at email@example.com or you can leave a comment on CN Lester’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/cnlestermusic
To the Board and Senior Team of Pride in London,
We, the undersigned, are writing to express our deep disappointment at Pride in London’s behaviour concerning the inclusion of UKIP in this year’s march, to wit:
UKIP was initially included in the march, despite having failed to sign up to the Pride in London charter. The signing of this charter was a prerequisite of entry – UKIP were the only political group to refuse to sign, but were still accepted as participants.
Pride in London failed to inform their Advisory Board of this decision. Crucially, they failed to consult with their BME representative before accepting UKIP’s application. Said representative was left to find out about UKIP’s inclusion from publicity materials and media coverage.
Pride in London then further refused to discuss UKIP’s inclusion with their BME representative, leading to said representative’s resignation.
After a broadly negative public response from the LGBTQI community to the announcement of UKIP’s inclusion, Pride in London publicly rescinded their acceptance of UKIP’s application. Pride in London assured other participants, and the broader community as a whole, that UKIP would not be allowed to march.
On the day of the march, Saturday June 27th, the UKIP contingent were ushered into the march itself as it was underway. This despite failing to pay the entrance fee, sign the charter, sign the agreement on good conduct, or be included in the parade route. It is important to note here that other groups and individuals who had failed to complete these steps were removed from the march by stewards and security officials.
The Chair of Pride in London, Michael Salter, consequently informed BBC Daily Politics that they had ‘managed to get them [UKIP] safely into the parade’ – confirming that UKIP’s inclusion was deliberate, rather than a last minute error. Mr. Salter expressed concern over the safety of UKIP supporters – but raised none of the concerns posed to him and the Board about the safety and well-being of other LGBTQI marchers threatened by UKIP’s inclusion. Mr. Salter went on to say that it was ‘great that they [UKIP] were able to participate’.
The board of Pride in London failed to respond to questions raised by the community over this backtracking. They have, after nearly three weeks of silence, produced a report that fails to answer the questions and concerns raised to them.
In providing UKIP members with special treatment (waiving of fees, waiving of conditions of entry) whilst assuring the broader LGBTQI community of their non-involvement, Pride in London have shown themselves to be incompetent, mendacious, or both. In particular, Pride in London’s treatment of their BME members and, more broadly, London’s LGBTQI people of colour, has been profoundly disrespectful. Instances of both overt and passive racism and Islamophobia from Pride in London’s board have been previously documented. This recent behaviour has confirmed the view of many in the community that Pride in London has failed in their duty to reflect and honour the multicultural nature of London’s LGBTQI population.
In their lack of respect shown to their own advisory committee, in their lack of respect shown to the broader LGBTQI community (including all other participants in this year’s Pride march and events), in their lack of transparency and failure to communicate honestly, the current Pride in London board shows itself not fit for purpose.
To represent London’s LGBTQI population accurately, the board of Pride in London must reflect the actual diversity of our community – and behave in accordance with its legal role as a community interest company.
We demand that changes be made: within the board, to the ways in which the board communicates, and with Pride in London’s accountability processes overall.