Comment: Why NUS LGBT+ supports banning UKIP from Pride

PinkNews logo on pink background with rainbow corners.

NUS LGBT+ has released a statement explaining its position in support of a ban on UKIP’s LGBT group attending Pride in London on Saturday.

We fully support the London Pride board of directors in their decision to reject the application from UKIP to march at London Pride 2015 and are pleased with this outcome. We are relieved to know that our community will not need to consider how they can avoid a day that has been reserved to celebrate the LGBT movement or consider how we can make a stand against prejudice within our own spaces that is meant to be used celebrate and remind us and others of our diversity and contributions to society.

For many years, NUS LGBT+ has stood firm in our belief that Pride IS a Protest. It’s an opportunity to celebrate our vibrant and diverse community and come together in a show of love, solidarity and respect for each other. But it’s also an opportunity to reflect and remind ourselves of how we got here in the first place.

The whole notion of Pride started when a trans person of colour threw a brick during the Stonewall riots in response to continuous raids and harassment from the public and the state against the LGBT+ community in San Francisco, way back in 1969. We have made some progress since then and things have become better for LGBT+ people, particularly in the USA and the UK. However, there is still a lot more to be done and the fight for true Liberation and equality, both here and across the world, still goes on.

Daily, we hear stories of countries where being LGBT+ is a crime and individuals can even face death just because of their identity. When people flee these very countries where they are not allowed to exist as who they are and land on our doorstep seeking asylum, they are put through a rigorous, exhausting and demeaning process that doesn’t even guarantee them their asylum in the UK. They are imprisoned, investigated, harassed, abused, and face the harrowing pressure of potentially being sent back to their countries and returning to violence, persecution and sometimes even death.

You can imagine our shock, and many others, when we found out that UKIP, a party that not only holds incredibly xenophobic policies that would leave these LGBT+ people in serious danger and has members that have produced LGBTphobic material and actively made very discriminatory statements under their banner, had been granted permission to have an organised block at this year’s London Pride.

The message for us is clear: You are welcome here, but your political ideologies are not.

We stand in solidarity with every person who wants to challenge the systematic and structural oppression of LGBT+ people. Of course, people who truly believe in our Liberation as a movement should be able to participate and celebrate together at Pride. And we would ask that those people, as individuals, do join us. But when you are part of a movement that stands against the very nature of what we stand for, how can you respect and celebrate our diverse and vibrant movement? How can you represent and respect every LGBT+ person and the very community that we pride ourselves on?

This isn’t a left-wing attack on politics – this isn’t an opportunity for us to push partisan ideologies. This is an opportunity to call out blatant discrimination when we see it and demand that the safe spaces we create remain safe and free from damaging and hurtful views.

This is why we want to send a message of love and solidarity across our intersectional LGBT+ community and make it clear that we stand together in challenging UKIP’s presence at London Pride.

We are pleased and proud to hear that London Pride has listened to the LGBT movement. The petition, which called for UKIP’s removal from the march, received 2383 signatures in as little as a few days. This petition was raised by a member of our student movement – Well done Sarah! And the NUS LGBT+ open letter to the board of directors, that called to reject UKIP’s application, received hundreds of signatures, again only in a matter of days. This is a clear indication that when we need to, we will unite and fight against any attack on our movement and actively call out discrimination when we need to. This a real testament to how strong and active we have become and we are proud to be part of this, as you should be too.

NUS LGBT+ will be marching at London Pride this year with the Student Pride Block. This year, the theme of London Pride is ‘Heroes’ and we want to send out a clear message of love and solidarity and highlight our heroes. From placards, to songs, to chants, to the visual representation of our presence at Pride London, we want to make as much noise and create as much understanding as we can that we love, respect and celebrate the diversity in our movement and we stand in solidarity with ALL LGBT+ people. If you want to join us on the march, please join our block.

And there are some other activities taking place over the same weekend to celebrate the LGBT+ movement, such as:

•    The Queer Picnic on 27 June
•    UK Black Pride Picnic in the Park on 28 June

If you are aware of any other events, please do let us know and we will add them to the list.

Let’s stand together for dignity, respect and love of our intersectional, diverse, Liberation movement and say no to discrimination on our march! We hope to see many of you there…

In Pride and Solidarity,

Robbiie Young NUS LGBT Officer (Open Place)

Fran Cowling NUS LGBT Officer (Women’s Place)

This article originally appeared on the NUS LGBT+ website.