UK Black Pride removes Home Office stall at event after 'error in judgement'

Comes after government department is accused of hypocrisy for using rainbow flag on social media 

Emma Snaith
Thursday 04 July 2019 18:39 BST
UK Black pride describes itself as Europe's "largest celebration for LGBTQ people of African, Asian, Middle Eastern and Latin American descent"
UK Black pride describes itself as Europe's "largest celebration for LGBTQ people of African, Asian, Middle Eastern and Latin American descent"

UK Black Pride has removed the Home Office and National Crime Agency’s stalls from its annual event over “continued discrimination” of the LGBT+ people it represents.

The event organisers said they had made an “error of judgement” after agreeing to allow the government agencies to appear at the event on Sunday in London’s Haggerston Park.

But the Home Office said it was “disappointed” by the decision and is “committed to supporting LGBT+ community”.

It comes after widespread criticism of the government department’s support of LGBT+ rights, after data published in November revealed 78 per cent of asylum claims referring to sexual orientation were refused by the Home Office in 2017-18. This was a 52 per cent rise on 2015's figures when 61 per cent of similar claims were rejected.

The Home Office has also been accused of “hypocrisy” after it adopted the Pride flag on social media. This came at the same time it threatened to deport a gay rugby player to a country where homosexuality is punishable by up to 21 years in prison.

UK Black Pride describes itself as Europe’s “largest celebration for LGBTQ people of African, Asian, Caribbean, Middle Eastern and Latin American descent”.

A statement from the event organisers said: "In light of the Home Office’s and the National Crime Agency’s (NCA) continued discrimination against the communities we represent, and the work we and other organisations connected to us do in support of LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers, the UK Black Pride board of directors has taken the decision to remove both the Home Office's and the NCA’s stalls from our event on Sunday 7 July in Haggerston Park.

"When we approved their application to have a stall, we were under the impression the stall would be manned by the Home Office’s internal LGBTQ network, Spectrum.

"We feel a deep commitment to LGBTQ people of colour, wherever they work, and felt compelled to offer the network an opportunity to engage with the UK Black Pride community about the work they may be undertaking internally to address the Home Office's discrimination against the communities we represent.

"We thought it would also be an opportunity for our community to respond directly to the NCA about the lack of representative data on crimes against people of colour in this country and to make clear the need for more robust interventions against hate crimes experienced by LGBTQ people of colour. We understand this is not the time nor place for this conversation."

The organisers added: "Our priority will always be the safety and wellbeing of LGBTQ people of African, Asian, Caribbean, Latin American and Middle Eastern descent.

"We are grateful that the community has raised their concerns with us and we are sorry for any alarm caused at the announcement that the Home Office and the NCA would be at UK Black Pride."

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In response, a government spokesperson said: “The Home Office is committed to supporting the LGBT+ community, both as employees and as an integral part of the public we serve, and we are disappointed by this decision.

“This government has a proud record of providing protection for asylum seekers fleeing persecution because of their sexual orientation or gender identity and all such claims are carefully considered in light of all the evidence available.”

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