Posts Tagged ‘No Pride in War’

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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Anti-Racist & Migrant Rights Reclaim Pride – 2017

Thursday, July 8th, 2021

I’ve almost given up on photographing the annual Pride Parade in central London, which has become such a corporate event, though as in this event in 2017 there are sometimes things happening around it which still have some political edge – and even inside it, generally relegated to well behind the corporate razzmatazz.

As I wrote on 8th July 2017:

“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.”

My London Diary – July 2017

In 2017 the commercialisation of Pride had reached new heights, with participation limited to those groups who had officially applied and got pride armbands being allowed to join the procession. At least in part this seems to have been an attempt to exclude groups such as the Migrants Rights and Anti-Racist Bloc organised and led by Movement for Justice and including Lesbians & Gays Support The Migrants, No Pride in War and London Supports Istanbul Pride who had joined in towards the back of the 2016 parade.

I don’t know if the bloc had made an application, but I think probably not, and they certainly didn’t have the armbands. They marched between police vans that were blocking the entrance to Oxford Circus in front of the march with others lifting up barriers and tried to make their way past the front of the march to join in further back but were stopped by Pride stewards.

This left them immediately in front of the heavily stewarded front of the official parade, and they refused to move unless they were allowed to make their way into the parade. A stalemate ensued, with Pride stewards insisting that they had to leave the area, and the Migrants Rights and Anti-Racist Bloc refusing to shift. Police tried to get them to move and also tried to get the Pride stewards to let them into the march, but they remained adamant.

It was time for the parade to start, but it couldn’t. Eventually police sorted out the issue by holding back the official parade while the Migrants Rights and Anti-Racist Bloc marched along the parade route past the large crowds to a great deal of applause and some aggravation from Pride stewards along it.

Around a quarter of an hour later, the official parade started, following them along the route. But it was again held up as the front of the procession reached Whitehall, as some of the No Pride in War protesters lay down on the tarmac in front of it. The procession was held up for another 15 minutes as police tried to persuade them to leave – and eventually I think they all got up when finally threatened with arrest.

The Migrants Rights and Anti-Racist Bloc had made a stand and had reclaimed Pride as a protest – with a separate official Pride following behind – and the No Pride In War had also made their point against the inclusion of the military in the official event. But “curiously” for such a high-profile protest in an event covered by huge numbers of press from around the world I think it went totally unreported in the mainstream media. For them, Pride is just a colourful spectacle.

Anti-Racist & Migrant Rights reclaim Pride