The London gay pride parade, scheduled for June 27, is all about diversity, inclusion and celebration of differences. Unless you're a gay supporter of the United Kingdom Independence Party, in which case you can go hang:
For this year we have reached the decision that UKIP’s application to join the Pride in London Parade, 27th June 2015, will be turned down. This decision has been made after careful consultation in order to protect participants and ensure the event passes off safely and in the right spirit, it has not been made on a political basis.
We appreciate many in our community have strongly held views about UKIP, their policies and comments, but is undeniable that there are LGBT+ members of UKIP, including their MEP for Scotland, and it is important to remember that Pride in London aims to be an inclusive event. However, of paramount concern to us is the experience of all participants at Pride, most especially the position we would be putting our volunteer stewards in.
Unless you're really, really anti-EU I'm not sure what would draw a gay person to support UKIP, considering its sympathy for (and possible financial ties to) the rabidly homophobic government of Vladimir Putin.
But I also know that politics is cyclical - sometimes left-wing parties are in favour, and sometimes there's a swing to the right. (Note: this does not apply to Ontario, where the Liberals will be in power forever and ever and ever.)
From a purely political standpoint, it would make sense for gay rights activists to encourage gay supporters of right-wing parties to be open about it, to ensure they have a foot in the door should they someday take power. (They were badly screwed by the first-past-the-post electoral system, but UKIP did grab over 12% of the vote in the last British general election. A few lucky swings here or there, and we might have been looking at a Conservative-UKIP coalition government.)
And the thing is, the London Pride organizers realize this, too. Their statement lists several reasons in favor of letting the UKIP members join their event:
- The LGBT+ members of UKIP should not be excluded because of comments made and views held by other members of their Party (as many Parties have people in them who have said offensive things in the past)
- That 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
Sounds right to me. But in the end, the hecklers got to exercise their veto power:
Whether we are able to run an event safely – keeping members of the public, participants and spectators safe and enabling people to have an enjoyable day in the spirit of Pride. We are also very mindful of our volunteers who steward the event, we will not put them in a situation where they feel intimidated, threatened or are exposed to increased risk.
The question is, who poses the risk? The UKIP members, or the people who really, really don't want them around?
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