Saturday, 6 June 2015

Pride of London - Discrimination?

For the past 24 hours there has been lively debate over Pride in London's decision to ban the UK Independence Party from this years Pride parade.

The word 'discrimination' has been mentioned, as many accuse the organisers of banning UKIP for political reasons. In a statement they say its after careful consultation "in order to protect participants and ensure the events passes off safely".

Now obviously I'm no UKIP supporter, the policies and beliefs of the party could not be further away from my own, but I find myself in the position where I feel that yes, the organisers of Pride in London are discriminating against a group of people based on their political leanings.

We've all heard the disgraceful outbursts made by various members of UKIP on LGBT issues, not least the councillor who blamed severe flooding in the South of England on the decision to legalise same sex marriage, then there were the completely awful comments on HIV made by Nigel Farage during the leadership debates. So the party record is by no means clean, I want to get that clear from the start.

But UKIP has an established LGBT group, where LGBT people who share the same political view points of the party can (I'm guessing) lobby the party to bring about more 21st century policies on equality and LGBT rights. I'm also guessing that members of this group aren't exactly homophobic, so why are they being excluded from Pride? An event which was setup to tackle prejudice and promote inclusion, to me, as someone who has a passion for LGBT rights and for freedom, it just doesn't add up. Pride in London organisers say it's due to "safety concerns", I would understand if this was the EDL or some other group with a clear history of hatred and violence, but I just can't see how this relates to the LGBT+ UKIP group.

On their website 'Pride in London' themselves note:

"The best way to get UKIP to change is to encourage its LGBT+ group to have a louder voice, to help them change their party to make it more diverse and inclusive."

I think this is the main point of the argument. The best weapon against ignorance is education. Surely UKIP wanting to participate shows at least a willingness to change.

(The full statement from the board of directors can be found - HERE)

The entire debate has even brought religious groups into the frame, with many arguing that some religious groups, for example, have made comments against equality, including against same sex marriage, but if one of those groups were to be excluded, it would be seen as completely out of order and unacceptable.

I think again there is a difficult question around when something is infringing on someone's right to Freedom of Speech and when it becomes acceptable to exclude based on someone having a viewpoint which is not broadly agreed upon.

Personally I think the wrong decision has been made in this instance, parts of the LGBT community being shown to discriminate against other LGBT people based on their politics can't be positive for the community and doesn't paint a good picture.

Of course the decision is only for this years Pride, 'Pride in London' say the Community Advisory Board will be looking into the issue of inclusion ahead of the 2016 event.

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