Pride in London was heavily criticised on Saturday for allowing a small anti-trans group to lead the parade. They have now issued an apology and condemned the protest as against the spirit of Pride.
As PinkNews reported yesterday, the anti-trans group GetTheLOut were allowed to lead the parade during over 47 minutes that our reporter filmed live. The small group of women showed banners with anti-trans slogans and handed out extreme transphobic literature, to the mixed bemusement of Pride attendees who had been expecting the Mayor of London to lead the parade with NHS staff.
Pride in London initially issued a statement that the parade start had ‘gone as planned,’ before issuing a second that said they had allowed the anti-trans group to lead the march under concerns for safety due to hot weather.
Last night Mayor of London’s office issued a statement condemning the hijack of the parade – at a point when Pride in London had only said that they ‘did not condone’ the anti-trans group.Over 24 hours later, Pride in London have now issued a full statement, rescinding their earlier positions and issuing an apology to trans attendees, finally condemning GetTheLOut’s actions.
The statement begins “We are sorry.
“Yesterday a group of individuals labelled as “Get The L Out!”, who were not a registered parade group, forced their way to the front of the parade to stand on the rainbow flag. Their behaviour was shocking and disgusting, and we condemn it completely.
“The lesbian board members at Pride in London made their anger towards the unsanctioned group clear and our organisation as a whole condemns their actions. The protest group showed a level of bigotry, ignorance and hate that is unacceptable.
“We reject what this group stands for. They do not share our values, which are about inclusion and respect and support for the most marginalised parts of our community.
“We are proud of our trans volunteers, proud of the trans groups that are in our parade, proud of our trans speakers at events and proud of the trans people who take part in our campaigns and proud of those who cheered even louder for them yesterday.”
The statement goes on to say the group – who initially stood on the rainbow flag that flies ahead of floats down the parade route – were placed in front of the parade to separate them from main attendees, as at that time they could not be arrested.
As Pride in London places heavy restrictions on numbers and has security as well as police officers for public safety during the parade, questions will be raised as to whether it would be necessary for an arrest able offence to be committed to remove anyone from an unauthorised area of an event.
The statement says “Sadly, we could not forcibly remove the group as their protest was not a criminal offence. They demanded to march behind the rainbow flag, which marks the official start of our parade. We did not allow that as we did not want to legitimise them or their message.
“We moved them to an area far in front of the official parade start to separate them. We are looking at what we could do differently if something like this happens again.
“The Pride goers who were in London yesterday told us that the actions of 8 people did not stop the joy and love that was demonstrated by the 30,000 people who followed. They tell us that cheers for our trans siblings were even louder.
“We are distraught by the messages and the hurt that has been caused and we held an urgent meeting with the Community Advisory Board this morning. We have also spoken to a number of individuals and groups including trans activists and Stonewall.
“As volunteers, we are shocked and appalled by this behaviour, not least because some felt threatened by the protesters. We are treating this extremely seriously and will be reviewing what happened with the Greater London Authority, the Metropolitan Police, Westminster City Council, TfL and continuing to consult with our Community Advisory Board.
“We will also be working with groups who have offered support given this issue must be stamped out and we will do everything we can to use our platform for good.
“Again, we are sorry to any of our trans siblings and their allies who have been affected.”
Representatives from Pride in London also issued personal statements, with Patricia Curtis, Board Member of South London group TransPALS saying –
“It’s disappointing that anti-trans activists decided to hijack the front of a parade, an insult to all the hardworking staff in the NHS whose place they stole.”
“But their vile stunt failed. London is a place that doesn’t tolerate hate. The reaction of the crowds to our groups was inspiring. We felt their support and goodwill all the way from Portland Place to Trafalgar Square.
“Pride must look at what happened and see what lessons need to be learned before next year.
“We urge all our fellow Londoners to respond to the Government’s consultation on reforms to the Gender Recognition Act.”
And Kristine Garina, President of European Pride Organisers Association, emphasising the role of trans people in the Pride movement and once again condemning the actions of the group.
“The Pride movement was begun by trans people and trans people must always be welcome at Pride. We utterly condemn the transphobic, hateful protestors who blocked the Pride in London Parade yesterday.
Hate has no place at Pride, and we stand with the organisers who have promised to review what happened to try and ensure it cannot happen again.”