Pride is a protest, after all 🏳️🌈
BY ELEANOR NOYCE, IMAGE BY A FOXLEY-JOHNSON
Penned by 14 leading members of the LGBTQI community including DIVA publisher Linda Riley, an open letter has been issued to Mayor of London Sadiq Khan demanding the immediate reform of Pride in London. Ex-Pride organisers Ade John, former local groups representative on the community advisory board of Pride in London, and Rob Millwood, former deputy director of operations at Pride in London, were also amongst the signees.
Coordinated by LGBTQI activist Peter Tatchell, a patron of Pride in London involved in the organisation of the first UK Pride Protest in 1972, the letter makes nine key demands:
- An enquiry into the allegations of racism and bullying
- The public release of Lisa Power’s 2020 report which reviewed the advisory requirements of Pride in London
- That LGBTQI human rights are front and centre in the promotion of Pride in London and in the annual parade
- That the limit on the numbers in the parade is lifted
- That the wristband requirement be scrapped
- That NDA contracts should only be applicable in very limited circumstances where there is a genuine safety or security concern
- The introduction of an independent complaints procedure that is transparent and accessible, without any threat of retaliation or retribution
- The creation of an independent LGBTQI community body to provide scrutiny, advice, oversight and accountability to Pride in London, including on issues such as sponsorship and whether organisations like the police and arms manufacturers should be allowed to march in the parade
- That all Pride in London organisers should be required to sign a publicly accessible register of interests, for the sake of transparency, accountability and confidence.
Pride in London has long faced allegations of racism and bullying. In March 2021, five directors, co-chairs Michael Salter-Church and Alison Camps included, were forced to resign. The organisation stated that it had “listened to and engaged with individuals, community groups and allied associations” that “shared their experiences, hurt and also support” for its work. Despite this, the remaining leadership team with a hand in the allegations refused to resign, and little change has been made.
Peter Tatchell states: “We are urging the Mayor to take action, given that Pride in London is no longer abiding by its contract and has lost the trust and confidence of much of the LGBTQI community. I hope the Mayor will meet us.
“Our nine demands are a bid to fix the problems with Pride in London. They are a complication of concerns expressed by a wide cross section of the LGBTQI community.
“We do not claim to have all the answers. We see this letter as a catalyst for change. I hope it will generate a much-needed debate within our community about who runs Pride, how it is run and Pride’s future character and direction. We welcome others contributing ideas.
“The successful ‘Reclaim Pride’ march on 24 July shows there is a yearning for change, in particular for a truly inclusive community-based Pride and a Pride that is both a celebration and a protest for LGBTQI human rights.”
Since Pride in London is funded by the Mayor’s office, the open letter wields the potential to evoke real change in reconnecting it to its revolutionary roots. Pride is a protest, after all.
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