Posts Tagged ‘gay community’

Anti-Racist & Migrant Rights reclaim Pride

Friday, July 8th, 2022

Anti-Racist & Migrant Rights reclaim Pride – 8 July 2017

Anti-Racist & Migrant Rights group unofficially leads Pride 2017

In 2017 the organisers of the official London Pride decided to strictly limit those taking part to groups that had made an official application with those who were approved being issued with armbands for their members to go on the route. In previous years the parade had been open to all, with smaller and more radical groups joining on the end of the march behind the main participants.

For years many in the gay community had protested that, as I reported “Pride over the years has degenerated from the original protest into a corporate glitterfest led by major corporations which use it as ‘pinkwashing’ to enhance their reputation and it includes groups such as the Home Office, arms companies and police whose activities harm gay people in the UK and across the world.”

They set off to join Pride

The new policing of participation seemed to them a further step in the direction of corporate control, making it no longer a community event, but one dominated by commercial interests.

Walking into Oxford Circus

I don’t think those who organised the Migrants Rights and Anti-Racist Bloc had deliberately set out to challenge the policy, more they had simply not anticipated that it would be applied strictly to prevent them joining in at the end of the parade as usual.

Stewards stopped them moving to the back of Pride, so they stayed in front

They met up at the west end of Oxford Street. As well as Movement For Justice, Queers Against Borders, Lesbians & Gays Support The Migrants and No Pride in War there was a strong contingent from London Supports Istanbul Pride. They made the point that being gay is still illegal in many countries, and that the persecution of gays is a major reason for many people coming to the UK to seek asylum.

Police let them march along the main route in front of the rest of Pride

Eventually the group of a few hundred marched off down Oxford Street towards Oxford Circus, where they intended to go up Regent St to join the end of the main parade. Their way onto Oxford Circus was blocked by barriers and police vans, but they simply split up to walk around these, lifting up some of them and grouping up again on Oxford Circus. And of course I went with them.

Here they were directly in front of the head of the main parade, stopping it from starting, and surrounded by large crowds of people who had come to see the procession. They tried to march up past the Pride stewards to the back of the parade but were stopped. There followed some minutes of argument, with the group staying in place in the middle of Oxford Circus and stewards refusing to let them go to join the main event.

And the crowds cheered

Police made some effort to get both sides to come to a compromise or get the Anti-racist and Migrants group to leave the area, but failed. Too many people were watching for them to use force to disperse the group – and there were probably many among the spectators who would have joined in to support them. Eventually police decided the group could march along the route and held up the rest of the parade for around ten minutes before they followed.

The march ends on Whitehall

So rather than being as in previous years at the back of the parade, going along the route hardly being noticed, with many of the spectators having by then drifted away to nearby bars or on their way home, the Migrants Rights and Anti-Racist Bloc lead the procession, marching past cheering crowds (though a few did look rather confused) all the way to Whitehall.

But No Pride in War decide to block the road

While most of the group ended their protest here, No Pride in War protesters proceeded to lie down across the road with their placards, blocking the route of the official procession which had to wait at Trafalgar Square until police finally managed to clear them, threatening them with arrest.

And the official parade has to wait again.

Later that day and on the day afterwards I watched and read the news reports on Pride, some giving it lengthy coverage. But although they had been there with their reporters and cameras, all of the mainstream media had for some reason decided that the very successful – if unintended – gatecrashing of the event by people protesting over Migrant Rights and other issues to wide acclaim by spectators along the route was not news.

More at Anti-Racist & Migrant Rights reclaim Pride.


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Migrant Pride and Pride 2016

Friday, June 25th, 2021

I first photographed London’s annual Pride in 1993, when it was a much smaller and more political event than it has become. Back then it was still a protest an since then it has become a parade, dominated by large corporate floats, from various large companies, armed forces and police.

Of course there is still some of the old spirit, with many groups from the gay community and even some protesters still taking part, but largely hidden at the back of the very long line-up.

The Migrant Rights & Anti-Racist Pride march to the official Pride London procession organised by Movement for Justice and joined by others, including London in Solidarity with Istanbul LGBTI Pride and Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants brought back some of the original spirit.

It gathered on Oxford St and then went on to join the main march, along with others behind the corporate floats.

The following year Pride organisers reacted by closing the march to only those who had officially applied to march and had official armbands – and refused entry to the Migrants Rights and Anti-Racist Bloc who then sat down in front of the march before police decided they could march along the route before the main procession.

This year Pride in London has been postponed until 11 September, but Peter Tatchell this May called for an alternative LGBT+ rights march to take place in June, He stated:

“For too long we have been conned by vested interests into believing that it is hugely expensive to hold a Pride march. It is not costly at all if we run the no-frills march that I am proposing.

“It would mirror the informality and spontaneity of the first Pride march in 1972, which I and 40 others helped organise. All we need to do is publicise it and people will turn up.

“Pride in London has become depoliticised. This Pride can change that. As well as being a joyful celebration, it should also profile LGBT+ human rights issues, such as the government stalling on a conversion therapy ban, blocking reform of the Gender Recognition Act and failing to end the detention of LGBT+ asylum seekers.

“It’s time to get back to the original roots of Pride, with everyone encouraged to bring a placard highlighting the LGBT+ issues that concern them. Let’s make this an event where our on-going demands for LGBT+ rights can be seen and heard.

https://www.petertatchellfoundation.org/call-for-alternative-reclaim-pride-london-march-in-late-june/

So far as I’m aware it has not been possible to organise an event like this for June 2010, although the London Trans Pride is still billed to take place on June 26, beginning at 2pm at Hyde Park. Perhaps next year it will be possible to organise such a “no frills” march with “no floats, no stage and no speakers at the end. Totally open, egalitarian and grassroots.” which “would reclaim Pride for the community.”

Pride London 2016
Migrant Rights & Anti-Racist Pride