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Pride in London responds to calls for inquiry following racism allegations

Exclusive: Activists demand intervention from mayor over practices within Pride in London

Nadine White
Friday 22 October 2021 02:21 BST

Pride in London’s leadership has responded to calls for the London mayor to launch an inquiry into allegations of racism and bullying within the organisation, The Independent can reveal.

Fourteen leading members of the LGBTIQ community wrote an open letter to Sadiq Khan, who funds the organisation, demanding nine reforms including the replacement of the board.

The signatories say the organisation’s leadership is no longer representative of the community it claims to serve, calling it “self-appointed, non-transparent and lacking oversight and accountability”.

They are also demanding that Mr Khan launch an inquiry into allegations that a culture of persecution and discrimination is rife within the organisation.

Pride in London told The Independent that it is regularly engaging with the LGBTIQ community and volunteers to deliver Pride in London 2022 while “prioritising the needs of marginalised groups and individuals within the LGBTQ+ community” in its thinking for the organisation.

“Pride in London continues to evolve, as outlined in our statement on 13 May where we launched our ‘Proud of Pride plan’ which included a link for the community to make recommendations and suggestions,” a spokesperson said.

“We are on a journey, like many organisations, and whilst we have very recently made some sizable modifications after consultation with our team, including a leadership team made up of 50 per cent minority and ethnic individuals, we will not stop building visibility, unity and equality into the heart of everything we do.”

It comes after The Independent revealed that Rhammel Afflick, formerly the most senior Black team member at Pride resigned from his post as director of communications in March, over concerns about racism within the organisation.

Thousands of LGBTI+ campaigners marched through London in the UK’s first-ever Reclaim Pride march (July 2021). (Peter Tatchell Foundation)

Days later, all 10 members of the Pride in London community advisory board (CAB) resigned citing a “hostile environment” for volunteers of colour.

The open letter’s authors are asking that an independent investigation by Lisa Power, described as “critical” and undertaken in the wake of concerns around racial discrimination at Pride in London earlier this year, be published in full.

“This gives the impression of a cover-up. Our community has a right to know,” the letter’s authors write.

In response to this, Pride in London said that a summary of the recommendations from Lisa Power’s report to review Pride in London’s community advisory requirements, commissioned by the previous co-chairs in 2020, were published on its website May 21st 2021, adding that “the report was not a report on racism and bullying.”

The letter’s coordinator is Pride in London patron Peter Tatchell, who helped organise the UK’s first Pride march in 1972. and said: “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 LGBTIQ community. I hope the Mayor will meet us.

“Our nine demands are a bid to the fix the problems with Pride in London. They are a compilation of concerns expressed by a wide cross section of the LGBTIQ 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 LGBTIQ human rights.”

Rhammel Afflick (Dave Bird)

Responding to the open letter on Thursday, Mr Afflick told The Independent: “Pride in London have a lot of work to do to regain the trust of LGBT+ communities — and that starts with engaging with other community organisers and wider communities transparently; change requires actually taking action on the issues that have surfaced repeatedly.

“It cannot be right that Black volunteers and Black communities have repeatedly highlighted issues of racism over the last four years without a meaningful response.

“It seems as though pride organisers have decided to move on without properly addressing the issues that came to light earlier this year.”

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: "London will always be a beacon of inclusiveness, acceptance and diversity.

“The views and contribution of our city’s vibrant and diverse LGBTQ+ community are vital to shaping successful Pride in London events.

“As we look ahead to welcoming the 50th anniversary celebration of Pride in London next year, we are fully committed to supporting the community to deliver a safe and inclusive event.”

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