Stonewall slams Pride in London, saying organisers had a ‘duty to act and protect trans people’

Leading LGBT+ rights charity Stonewall has hit-out at Pride in London, after a group of lesbian, anti-trans protesters were effectively able to lead the parade on Saturday.

Ruth Hunt, CEO of Stonewall, wrote in an article on the charity’s website on Sunday that Pride in London had “a duty to act and protect trans people.”

Pride in London has been widely criticised on social media for not removing a group of about 10 transphobic protesters – holding signs reading “transactivists erase lesbians” and “lesbian = female homosexual” –  after they hijacked the front of the march.

The protest group, called ‘Get The L Out,’ were then able to lead the parade along much of the route, walking in front of mayor of London Sadiq Khan and equalities minister Penny Mordaunt.

“That a transphobic group who are actively working against the community were able to walk the length of the route, that they faced no obstruction and were able to distribute leaflets filled with myths and lies, is hard to believe,” wrote Hunt.

The group also handed out anti-trans leaflets. Statements included: “The trans movement with the complicity of ‘queer’ LGBT politics is coercing lesbians to have sex with men. We firmly condemn this visions form of anti-lesbianism disguised as protest.’

Hunt continued: “Facing up to your privilege isn’t easy. But it’s essential because ignoring it can lead you to make assumptions and decisions that put people in danger.

“Yesterday was a demonstration of that in action, with a transphobic group able to protest unhindered in the interests of the ‘safety of everyone’. Not everyone was safe – trans people were left feeling exposed and alienated by their own community.

“Pride in London had a duty to act and protect trans people yesterday. They didn’t. They had a duty to condemn the hatred directed at trans people. They didn’t.”

The anti-trans group leading Pride in London’s parade on Saturday. (Nick Duffy)

Hunt said that Stonewall had written to Pride in London two years ago to “express concern about the power imbalance” between Pride in London and UK Black Pride.

She said that the charity had been “concerned that Pride in London weren’t using their power and privilege to support people who face marginalisation both in and outside our community”

In February, Stonewall pulled out of Pride in London, accusing organisers of failing to represent people of colour.

Hunt also condemned that actions of the lesbian protesters on a personal level.

“As a cis lesbian I also want to condemn in the strongest terms the actions of the people yesterday who claim to represent me. These people have deserted the fight for LGBT equality, they have no place at Pride,” she wrote.

“I applaud the cis lesbians and all those who have also spoken of their disgust at yesterday’s action. Please continue to come out for trans equality. Be an active, fierce ally. Show up and we will win this fight. Together we are stronger.”

Leaflets handed out by anti-trans protesters at Pride in London’s parade on Saturday. (Nick Duffy)

Hunt said that Stonewall, for the third year, “repeats its offer to support Pride in London in their journey,” adding: “Stonewall has needed help with this and we’ve invested in both our trans and black, Asian and minority ethnic work.

She continued: “We’ve a long way to go. We know we’ve made mistakes in the past. We are addressing them. We’d like to support Pride in London to do the same.”

In a new statement on Sunday, Pride in London condemned that “vile” actions of the group, saying: “We are sorry.” However, the organisers initially released a statement citing “hot weather” and “safety” for allowing the protest group to lead the parade. 

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who was supposed to lead the march but got stuck behind the protestors, also criticised the transphobic group.

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London told PinkNews: “Pride is about celebrating difference and London’s amazing LGBT+ community.

“It’s about showing those round the world that in our great city you can be free to be whoever you want to be and love whoever you want to love.

“The vast majority of those present at today’s march respected and embraced that and the Mayor condemns the tiny minority who did not.

“Transphobia is never acceptable.”