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Pride in London 2015: Ukip rejected from pro-LGBT parade 'to protect participants'

Organisers said it was an 'inclusive event' but they had to consider safety

Lizzie Dearden
Saturday 06 June 2015 11:06 BST
Ukip was refused permission to join the Pride in London parade for 2015
Ukip was refused permission to join the Pride in London parade for 2015 (Getty Images)

Ukip has been banned from joining marchers at London’s world-famous gay pride parade to “ensure the event passes on safely and in the right spirit”.

Almost 2,400 people had signed an online petition to exclude the political party, calling Ukip “inherently homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, racist and misogynistic”.

It cited Nigel Farage’s comments on HIV treatment, the party’s opposition to same-sex marriage and other “controversial views” voiced by members.

Mige; Farage was singled out for his comments on HIV treatment and 'health tourism' (NIKLAS HALLE'N | AFP | Getty Images)

Organisers of Pride in London, which will take place on 27 June, did not specifically mention the petition while announcing Ukip’s application to join was being turned down yesterday.

The Board of Directors said in a statement: “We appreciate many in our community have strongly held views about Ukip, their policies and comments, but is undeniable that there are LGBT+ members of Ukip, including their MEP for Scotland, and it is important to remember that Pride in London aims to be an inclusive event.”

The directors said they had “wrestled with the difficult issue” of whether to allow the application over several days, adding that the intention was to unite, rather than divide, people with an event that serves the whole community.

“This decision has been made after careful consultation in order to protect participants and ensure the event passes off safely and in the right spirit, it has not been made on a political basis,” a spokesperson added.

"Of paramount concern to us is the experience of all participants at Pride, most especially the position we would be putting our volunteer stewards in."

The board has asked Pride in London’s community advisory group to assess the criteria for parade entrants before next year and consider how to “balance the desire of members of the LGBT+ community to participate in Pride with comments made or policies adopted by the organisations they represent”.

Its website states that it reserves the right to exclude organisations whose policies or leadership do not support the values of acceptance and inclusion it promotes.

Writing for The Independent yesterday, Kevin Maxwell said that despite his “homosexuality, ethnicity, and total disdain for Ukip”, he thought the party should be allowed to march at Pride.

“The day we start to ban legitimate political parties from public events is a dangerous one,” he adding, citing Ukip’s 3.8 million votes in the general election.

“We have to show others that as LGBT people we are truly about inclusiveness and not exclusiveness, or it undermines our fight.”

Revellers take part in the London Pride Parade 2014 in central London (PA)

Ukip said the decision marked “a sad day for diversity and freedom”.

Flo Lewis, the head of LGBT in Ukip, said: “The board of London Pride 2015 have not decided to reject our application. Instead they have decided to rescind the invitation under threats from and complaints by other members of the LGBT community.

"We should, I think, be very sorry that this decision has been made, equally we are sorry that the organising committee and board of London Pride 2015 has been put under the sort of pressure it has over the past few days.

"All people, regardless of creed, colour or sexual orientation, can find a home in Ukip. It is a sad day for diversity and freedom when these people are prohibited from expressing their selves as part of the wider community.”

A Ukip mini-manifesto aimed at Christians before last month's general election said the party would give legal protection in the workplace to people who oppose same-sex marriage because of their beliefs.

That pledge would have applied to cases including the Northern Irish bakery that lost a discrimination case after refusing to make a cake with a pro-gay marriage slogan.

Additional reporting by PA

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