The first Pride march in London was 1st July 1972, just three years after the Stonewall riots: the 2015 Pride will be celebrated on 27th June 2015.
Pride is not a demo and it’s not a party. Pride is a public celebration of being LGBT: lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans.
The UKIPlgbt group had been intending to march in London Pride. (Contrary to their own claims, they were not “invited”: they applied, as many hundreds of groups do, and were originally passed through on the nod. In response to public protest against their inclusion, Pride London reconsidered and told the group they could not march.
“LGBT* in UKIP” have gamely tried to claim they have been invited to attend “many other” Pride events throughout the country, but this has been specifically denied by Kent Pride and queried by the UK Pride Network.
— UK Pride Network (@UKPrideNetwork) June 8, 2015
(No individual is banned from marching at Pride if they behave themselves: the only question is of groups with banners.)
Pride’s origins in the Stonewall riots are important here. Irene Monroe wrote three years ago:
When I look back at the first night of the Stonewall Inn riots, I could have never imagined its future importance. The first night played out no differently from previous riots involving black Americans and white policemen. And so, too, did its being underreported. But I was there.
On the first night of the Stonewall riots, African Americans and Latinos likely were the largest percentage of the protestors, because we heavily frequented the bar. For homeless black and Latino LGBTQ youth and young adults who slept in nearby Christopher Park, the Stonewall Inn was their stable domicile. The Stonewall Inn being raided was nothing new. In the 1960s gay bars in the Village were routinely raided, but in this case, race may have been an additional factor, given the fact that so many of the patrons were black and Latino, and this was the ’60s.
These days there are Pride marches and festivals all over the UK, centring around the last Saturday in June (Edinburgh’s Pride festival is on 20th June this year). Pride London is still the biggest and is indubitably the oldest. Pride is a celebration, and also the public commemoration of a moment in history.
Is there any indication that UKIP want to have a part in that celebration, that UKIP want to be part of the public commemoration a moment when LGBT people, black, Latino, homeless, easy targets for white New York cops, fought back against the system of authority that said they should be ashamed and alone?
I have heard some suggest that UKIP should be allowed to reapply in the future when they have made more progress in showing their support for LGBT rights. How would you define that?
On 15th April this year, UKIP released their manifesto for the general election. As they had done for the other parties, Attitude made “a handy summary of the policies which are specific to the LGBT community”.
There were none.
Literally, no mention of LGBT-specific issues whatsoever.
Instead, UKIP published a second manifesto, nearly two weeks later on 28th April, described as their Christian Manifesto, and this one did reference policies specific to the LGBT community: specifically, this manifesto would give Christians the right to ‘reasonable accommodation’ to those Christians who feel like they want to “express a religious conscience in the workplace”.
This kind of ‘reasonable accommodation’, also known as a ‘conscience clause’, was discussed several times during the debate on the Equal Marriage Act. What was concluded by both the vast majority of the House of Commons and the House of Lords was that there was no such thing as ‘reasonable accommodation’ with regard to allowing discrimination against same-sex married couples. (The exception, of course, was clergy who might be asked to marry same-sex couples of faith: there was consistent agreement on all sides that no ordained person should be asked to wed a couple if she or he felt their marriage would be wrong in religion. This exception was written into the Equal Marriage Act and also into the Scottish legislation.) But if a business or a professional person provides services, they must be required to provide them to all law-abiding paying customers.
A hypothetical example proposed in the House of Lords was if a chauffeur who worked for a limo company wanted to refuse to drive a same-sex couple to or from their wedding, simply because he identified himself as a Christian who didn’t agree with same-sex marriage, would open the door to all kinds of discriminatory behaviour by employees and by businesses: such as a real-life example in the US was a Christian paediatrician who decided she wouldn’t be able to treat a baby because the baby had two mothers.
Carey Lodge, writing in Christian Today, described this manifesto as a “muscular defence” of Christianity. In February this year the Evangelical Alliance claimed that evangelical Christians were ditching the Tories by thousands over same-sex marriage: claiming that “evangelicals were most concerned about poverty, inequality and same-sex marriage” – curiously enough, the very three issues which Nigel Farage was to claim UKIP were most concerned about in UKIP’s Christian Manifesto.
Tom Booker, who had been the founder and the chair of UKIPlgbt, had resigned both from the group and from the party at the end of February, two months before the “Christian Manifesto” was published, saying he had stepped down
due to disillusionment of policy direction and dissatisfaction at the failure of the leadership to set a gay-friendly tone.
Was Booker aware of the plans to develop a “Christian Manifesto” which would exploit homophobic feelings among evangelical-Christian voters? Did he step down to avoid being sacked as the former chair of Ukip’s Young Independence was sacked for publicly criticising UKIP’s opposition to same-sex marriage? We may never know.
We do know that it is a consistent framing of this kind of homophobia and transphobia to assert that the Christians who want to discriminate against LGBT people and same-sex couples are not homophobic: they “only” want freedom to practice their religion, to promote their religious beliefs that same-sex couples are not really married, that LGBT people are the worst kind of sinners.
Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism – all of the major world religions have been used to justify discrimination against LGBT people, just as all have been used to justify sexism and racism. A determined bigot will find a Biblical verse or a passage in the Qu’ran and claim that this is sufficient to “prove” that one person can enslave another, or that it’s righteous for a man to rape and abuse women, or that black people are intrinsically inferior to white people – or that God hates queers. All of the major religions have also included believers who do not support any of these things and who have fought the hierarchy of their own faith on LGBT human rights.
We do know that even a former Breitbart employee was happy to tell the Guardian after he quit that “much of UKIP” are “a bunch of ragtag, unprofessional, embarrassing people”. (He also thinks that Douglas Carswell, UKIP’s only MP, won’t last more than six months in the party after he committed the only cardinal sin the UKIP party hierarchy care about: refusing public funds from the taxpayer.)
It is fair to say that all parties include homophobes: but UKIP MEP voting records on LGBT equality and human rights in the European Parliament are dismal.
This makes them distinct from other LGBT groups within political parties, who – from the Conservative Party’s Campaign for Homosexual Equality onwards (CHE was founded in 1964) have seen it as their role to make their party and their representatives more active in campaigning and voting for LGBT equality and human rights.
The group “LGBT* in UKIP” does not appear to see itself as a pressure group to oppose UKIP’s attacks on LGBT equality or to make UKIP MEPs and MPs vote for equality and human rights legislation. They opposed a particularly silly comment from a UKIP councillor who claimed that gay marriage caused floods, but the group itself opposed lifting the ban on equal marriage, claiming that if same-sex couples could marry, this would infringe “religious freedom”.
Their main function within UKIP appears to be only this: they illustrate the claim that UKIP is not homophobic, while doing nothing to make UKIP less homophobic.
I think UKIPlgbt want to march at Pride not because they want to celebrate being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or because they want to commemorate the riot where black queers fought white police, but because they want to claim that UKIP’s brand of Christian homophobia is not “really” homophobic: the UKIP leadership want to point at the UKIPlgbt banner at Pride and claim that though they are opposing equality and human rights for LGBT people but they’re not homophobic, not really, seriously not.
Cheap-work conservatives encourage racism, misogyny, homophobia and other forms of bigotry. Why? Bigotry among wage earners distracts them, and keeps them from recognizing their common interests as wage earners.
UKIP are the party for cheap-work conservatives who want public funds more than they want public office. They campaign on division and hate: they win votes from the rich who hate the human rights protected by the Council of Europe: they win votes from the white working-class voters who have been convinced by tabloid propaganda that the problems of low wages, poor working conditions, zero-hours contracts, and lack of decent housing, are caused by “immigrants” and not by wealthy profiteers.
UKIP supporters arguing that it’s “discriminatory” if their anti-gay organisation is not allowed to join the oldest, biggest march celebrating the defeat of homophobia and the rise of Pride, are also arguing that it’s wrong to let LGBT Jewish or Muslim or Catholic groups join the march – because UKIPpery is about racism, anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, sectarianism, just as much as it is about homophobia. For this reason, they shouldn’t be allowed to march at Pride: will the BNP and the EDL then form “LGBT groups” and claim they should be allowed to march at Pride, regardless of the feelings of other marchers against bigotry in their midst?
UKIP is the party for bigots: UKIPlgbt shouldn’t be trying to claim their anti-gay policies are “religious freedom”: they shouldn’t be allowed to march at Pride.
- Solidarity Betrayed: UKIP and Pride
- Open letter from Frankie Green, one of the veterans of the 1972 Pride March, responding to Flo Lewis of UKIP LGBT+
- “Should UKIP LGBT be banned from the Pride London parade?” – Peter Tatchell
Update: on 16th June, UKIP re-instated their party secretary, Matthew Richardson, who in a speech to conservative activists in Washington D.C. had attacked the National Health Service as “the Reichstag bunker of socialism” and complained about the provision of gender reassignment treatment on the NHS in transphobic language: “Socialists think that if somebody wants to reassign their gender the state should pay, they think that’s how the world works. So if you love she-males come to the United Kingdom, if you love freedom – stay here [in the US].”
On their Twitter feed, UKIPlgbt seem to be too busy protesting their exclusion from London Pride and complaining about the EU referendum to bother protesting the reinstatement of Matthew Richardson. And that is exactly why it would be disgraceful to allow these representatives of a bigoted party to march at Pride. Pride is about standing up for equality and human rights: if UKIPlgbt wanted to do that, they could have done so against Matthew Richardson. They didn’t. (They never did: their Twitter feed contains no references to party secretary Matthew Richardson.)
Predictably, “LGBT in UKIP” decided to gatecrash the Pride march in London on 28th June 2015, disappointingly, 71% of the readers of the GayUK magazine didn’t understand why a group against LGBT equality should be banned from a celebration of LGBT equality.
LGBT in UKIP now claim they intend to gatecrash other celebrations of LGBT equality with their party banners to oppose LGBT human rights. Hopefully, forewarned, other Prides will be able to ensure they’re turned away.
— Exposing UKIP IMP (@SLATUKIP) June 28, 2015