Gay firefighters in London Pride boycott

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Lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans firefighters say they will refuse to march with London Fire Brigade in the capital’s Pride parade next weekend.

Members of the Fire Brigades Union say they are boycotting the brigade’s usual place in the parade over a range of equality issues.

A statement from the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) claimed there had been a “year of regression” on LGBT issues, including the brigade withdrawing from the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index.

The union also claimed there had been “successive disengagement” with LGBT staff and that progress has “stagnated”.

In response, London Fire Brigade said its commitment to LGBT issues was “as strong as ever”.

Union member firefighters from across the UK will march in the July 2nd parade in the union section.

Pat Carberry, the union’s LGBT secretary, said: “It is unfortunate that our members have been pushed into having to make this choice. In the past we have worked closely with London Fire Brigade and that joint working approach has brought about improvement to working conditions for our LGBT members and an improvement in the service we provide to the LGBT community.

“It now seems equality no longer features in the services commitment. It would be wrong of us to march alongside this organisation promoting a visual front that the service is committed to serving our community when in reality no progress is being made and if anything it’s actually getting worse.”

A spokeswoman for the London Fire Brigade said: “It’s extremely disappointing that the FBU has asked its members not to march with the brigade at this year’s Pride. Senior managers from the brigade met the LGBT group last month and our deputy commissioner even offered to increase the attendance of brigade managers at the march.

“Our commitment to LGBT staff is as strong as ever and we would challenge the FBU’s claims of regression and disengagement. We also feel that the FBU’s position may not be widely supported by all LGBT members. We’ll continue to listen to staff about what they’d like to happen at Pride and will continue to offer our support accordingly.“