Pride in Surrey removes people protesting BAE Systems sponsorship

Organisers of the inaugural Pride in Surrey allegedly removed protesters who were criticising the lead sponsor, defence giant BAE Systems, on August 10.

At least four people say they were removed from Pride in Surrey.

Two say they were told it was because they were being removed for being “too political” while two more say they were told it was “because you’re protesting a sponsor and the organisers don’t want you here.”

Tim Rosson, one of the people who was removed, said in a statement: “I’m very disappointed that the organisers of Pride in Surrey decided to have LGBTQ+ people celebrating Pride thrown out, to protect BAE Systems from criticism.”

“Some of us were thrown out for being political – at an event that is a political statement about LGBTQ+ rights. Some were thrown out simply because the sponsor didn’t want us there,” he said.

The protestors carried banners and leaflets protesting BAE’s sponsorship of the event in Woking.

UK-based pacifist network the Peace Pledge Union (PPU), a member of the No Pride in War coalition, condemned the removal of the protestors and called on Pride in Surrey organisers to explain why they had put “the sensitivities of arms dealers ahead of LGBT people’s right to free expression.”

Symon Hill, campaigns manager at PPU, said, “This is outrageous. The organisers of Pride in Surrey have urgent questions to answer.

“The removal of peaceful LGBT+ people opposed to BAE Systems is an assault on free expression, queer liberation and everything that Pride is supposed to stand for. Is Pride in Surrey a celebration of LGBT human rights or a vehicle for arms dealers to pinkwash their image?”

On August 3, the UK’s national Bisexual Convention, BiCon, became the first major LGBT+ event in Britain to rule out funding from the arms trade or military recruitment stalls.

The new policy was passed in an 81 percent majority vote.

PinkNews has reached out to Pride in Surrey for comment.