When Pride in London announced that LGBT* in UKIP would be marching in the parade, the UK LGBT world was quickly caught up in heated debate. Within a week, they reversed course and announced that LGBT* in UKIP would not march. Since then, the debate has only intensified.
For many, this is the first they are hearing about LGBT* in UKIP. Founded in August 2012, it is an official organisation within UKIP that advises the party on LGBT issues and promotes UKIP within the LGBT community. While 'kippers often get attention for saying vile things about LGBT individuals, LGBT* in UKIP condemns them and represents the official party stance. As with most internet arguments (and politics…), there's more misinformation than truth about this group flying around. I'm researching LGBT* in UKIP for my dissertation, so I thought I'd clear a few things up.
1. UKIP was never going to march
Peter Tatchell led the charge against UKIP being allowed in the parade. He and others wrote at length about the “Long List of Homophobic Scandals That Makes You Wonder Why UKIP Would Even Want to Be at London Pride”.
However, as Flo Lewis notes, UKIP was never going to march. The LGBT* advocacy group inside the party was. The people marching would have been almost entirely LGBT themselves and volunteer their time for pro-LGBT causes.
2. LGBT* in UKIP wasn't 'banned' from the parade
Almost everyone uses the word 'ban'. But the official statement from Pride in London never instituted a 'ban'. All groups wishing to march must apply. We're not 'banned' from jobs, universities and reality TV shows when our applications are turned down. The other groups whose applications to march were turned down aren't calling it a 'ban'. LGBT* in UKIP can and will still go to the parade, wear UKIP shirts and take advantage of their “right to be there”. They just don't get to be one of the groups selected to march down the middle of the street.
3. LGBT* in UKIP wasn't really 'invited' either
Lewis writes that “Pride invited my UKIP LGBT* group to attend” and their Facebook page says that Pride “have not decided to reject our application. Instead they have decided to rescind the invitation”.
But Pride in London doesn't cherry-pick groups to invite, bypassing the application process. Instead, "an open invitation is made…anyone has the ability to apply". It is true that their application was initially approved, which may have resulted in a formal invitation to march, but UKIP supporters seem keen to downplay the application process they went through.
4. Pride isn't an inclusive event
As the petition points out, the EDL and BNP are not allowed to march. UK Black Pride has been active since 2006 as an alternative to excessively white pride events like this one. And this year there's a Queer Picknic alternative to London Pride for those who don't feel included there.
5. Pride's exclusivity isn't based in history or principles
Frankie Green, who marched in London's first Pride parade, explained eloquently why a UKIP subgroup is antithetical to the history and values of early Prides. But UKIP is hardly the only questionable party on LGBT issues. By Green's logic, the Tories, police, military and Barclays bank should all be banned from the parade. If we're being true to the radical, queer, socialist, anarchist roots of Pride parades, almost everyone marching today should be banned.
6. UKIP's presence wouldn't make anyone 'unsafe'
The organisers of Pride in London decided to turn down LGBT* in UKIP's application for unspecified safety reasons. But 'kippers dancing in the street isn't a safety threat to other LGBT people. And neither is the 'kippers' safety at risk for “braving the contempt” of leftists there.
Which LGBT people are really unsafe? The people of colour at this over-policed event, homeless and bullied youth, sex workers and all the other marginalised groups of LGBT people who are increasingly forgotten at Pride.