UKIP group banned from London Gay Pride parade this Saturday
UKIP group banned from London Gay Pride parade this Saturday
The party opposes LGBT equality & therefore has no right to march
London - 24 June 2015
The UKIP LGBT group has been banned from this year’s annual Pride London parade which takes place this Saturday, 27 June.
“UKIP’s politics conflict with the human rights values and policies of Pride London and the wider LGBT community. It has a long-standing and often vociferous hostility to equal human rights for LGBT people,” said Peter Tatchell, Director of the Peter Tachell Foundation, who endorses the ban, with some reservations.
“Only organisations that support of LGBT equality should be permitted to participate in the Pride parade. This seems a reasonable expectation to me.
“It is not appropriate for an organisation that opposes LGBT equality to be a part of Pride.
“I can’t endorse UKIP LGBT marching until they issue a clear disassociation from UKIP’s anti-gay policies and declare that they are in favour of specific policies to redress the on-going injustices faced by LGBT people. Nevertheless, I’m very uncomfortable with banning them.
“UKIP and its LGBT wing could end the controversy by renouncing the party’s anti-LGBT stance and endorsing policies to remedy the remaining gay inequalities. They have failed to do so. If they are not homophobic, why haven’t they done this?
“I applaud UKIP members who are genuinely seeking to transform the party’s regressive stance on LGBT rights and other humanitarian issues. I welcome their participation as individuals in the Pride parade and wish them success in transforming UKIP into a party that celebrates and defends the human rights of everyone in Britain - and worldwide.
“UKIP campaigned against same-sex marriage; mirroring the stance of religious fundamentalists and the far right. Although its leader Nigel Farage now says UKIP won’t repeal the legislation, he’s never said he supports marriage equality. That’s a big and important difference.
“The party’s general election manifesto included not a single commitment to LGBT rights. Instead, it has proposed weakening the equality laws with a ‘conscience’ clause to permit religious people to discriminate against LGBTs.
“UKIP’s asylum policy would make it harder for LGBT people fleeing persecution to secure refuge in the UK. Its plan to slash overseas aid by two-thirds is likely to diminish vital support and assistance to LGBT and other human rights organisations in repressive and homophobic countries.
“UKIP also wants to repeal the Human Rights Act and withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) - both of which protect the LGBT community (and others) against abuses by the State. Indeed, rulings by the ECHR forced successive UK governments to end the ban on LGBTs in the armed forces, equalise the age of consent, extend rights to transgender people and scrap homophobic bias in the criminal law. Why would any party other than a homophobic one want to break links with a court that has done so much good for LGBTs?
“During the election debate, Nigel Farage scapegoated non-British people with HIV, some of whom are LGBT. His manifesto failed to mention HIV, let alone pledge to reverse the cuts in HIV funding. He was the only UK-wide party leader to snub and insult the LGBT community by refusing to participate in an election Q & A with Pink News readers.
“UKIP does not support a legal requirement on schools to combat anti-LGBT bullying, provide LGBT-inclusive sex and relationship education and organise equality and diversity lessons to challenge anti-LGBT prejudice. It maintains a ‘hands off’ policy on these issues that colludes with the suffering of LGBT youth.
“A couple of weeks ago, UKIP MEPs voted in the European Parliament against an equality strategy to protect and support women and LGBT people.
“Not surprisingly, a previous leader of UKIP’s LGBT group resigned in disgust at the party’s homophobia, biphobia and transphobia.
“If UKIP had got it wrong on some LGBT issues it would be lamentable but not put them beyond the pale. After all, most other parties have less than perfect records. What makes UKIP uniquely homophobic is the vast number of policies on which it is clearly not supporting the interests and welfare of LGBT people.
“In addition, far too many of UKIP's candidates and elected politicians - more than from any other party - have made repeated outrageous anti-gay comments that echo the extreme homophobia of the far right British National Party (BNP), as documented by ViceUK.
“Some have also disparaged women and black people, many of whom are LGBT - again, proportionately more than the representatives of other parties.
“Although not explicitly racist in its policy statements, the rhetoric of UKIP politicians and activists often panders to racism and xenophobia, which is a menace to LGBT refugees, immigrants and ethnic minorities. Should the LGBT community ignore UKIP’s negative impact on these sections of our people? I don’t think so. And don’t we have a duty to stand in solidarity with other communities who are victimised by UKIP policies and rhetoric?
“Opponents of a ban at Pride point out that the march application was from UKIP’s LGBT group, not UKIP. The group claims to support LGBT rights.
“However, in her Pink News comment piece on 3 June, Flo Lewis, the Chair of UKIP LGBT, did not say that she and her group oppose UKIP’s anti-LGBT policies and its failure to support LGBT reforms.
“She made no explicit direct criticism of her party. Nor did she set out the group’s support for any specific LGBT rights policies.
“Like their party, the UKIP LGBT group appears to have no commitment to redress any of the remaining injustices faced by our community. This doesn’t inspire confidence that they are much different from their parent party.
“The lack of concrete, specific support by UKIP LGBT for the LGBT equality agenda may be inadvertent but it is part of a pattern of silence by the group on key LGBT issues, which fuels queries about their support for equality and concern about their participation at Pride.
“When I recently tweeted about the jailing of gay men in Morocco, UKIP LGBT tweeted back that their imprisonment was “just like LGBT UKIP being banned from a community Pride event.” The fact that they equate incarceration by an oppressive regime with their exclusion from the Pride parade further calls in to question the group’s understanding and commitment to LGBT rights.
“Many people are worried that UKIP sees marching at Pride as a useful way to give it a more liberal image and recruit more members; in the process hoodwinking the LGBT community into believing they are LGBT-friendly. While UKIP is less hostile to LGBT rights than it was in the past it still doesn’t qualify as anywhere near pro-LGBT.
“So what’s my final conclusion? It’s a real dilemma. I don’t have a clear, confident answer. Because I instinctively dislike bans, I’m struggling. Yet I also expect Pride participants to support LGBT equality.
“For me, this is a grey, conflicted issue. I can sympathise with some aspects of both sides of the argument but on balance the case against UKIP LGBT’s marching in the Pride parade is stronger than the case in favour. I don’t feel totally at ease with this position,” said Mr Tatchell.