Stonewall chief calls for Pride in London bosses to stand down over ‘disturbing’ racism and bullying claims

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Stonewall has called for the resignation of Pride in London‘s leadership amid “disturbing” accounts of racism and bullying.

The organisation is facing demands for new leadership after its formerly most senior Black staffer, Rhammel Afflick, quit and blew open a culture of racism at the top of the non-profit.

An avalanche of resignations followed, including around 20 volunteers and its entire scrutiny body, the community advisory board.

Stonewall previously cut ties with Pride in 2018 over similar concerns, and on Friday morning (19 March), joined calls for the organisation’s leadership team to step down.

“We support the calls from the community advisory board for a new leadership to take the organisation forward and for an independent investigation by the mayor’s office into the alarming accounts of marginalisation and bullying of volunteers, with publication of the outcome,” said chief executive Nancy Kelly.

Kelly sought to stress how Pride is “essential to both surviving and thriving as LGBT+ people in a world where structures and institutions are stacked against us”. Crucially, she said, it must be a space where all feel “safe, respected and supported”.

For some of its Black and POC volunteers, Pride in London is no such space. Afflick has accused Pride in London directors of “ignoring Black voices”. He said they “insist” on “looking the other way” when it comes to racism and the treatment and concerns of some volunteers.

The former chair of its since-resigned community advisory board, Ozzy Amir, described to PinkNews how it’s an “open secret that Pride in London doesn’t care about Black voices”.

Stonewall has ‘lost confidence’ in Pride in London leaders

Addressing these claims, Kelly continued: “We’re deeply disturbed by the testimonies of Rhammel Afflick and others involved in Pride in London about their experience of institutional racism.

“We stand in solidarity with Rhammel and everybody else who has shared their experiences of racism within Pride in London and the LGBT+ community more broadly.

“Rhammel’s account mirrors many others we have heard from people of colour within Pride in London.

“The consistent pattern of testimonies suggests that the leadership culture within Pride in London has not changed in response to complaints and concerns raised.”

Kelly described how a flashpoint for Stonewall, in particular, came in 2018 when the charity severed ties from Pride in London for its failure to involve Black and POC communities.

Participants celebrate during the 2019 Pride in London parade.

Participants celebrate during the 2019 Pride in London parade.
(David Cliff/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

“We hoped that Pride in London had truly listened to the concerns of diverse communities,” Kelly said of the move.

“Recent testimonies show that this has not happened.

“We have lost confidence that Pride in London’s leadership has the genuine commitment to serve all our communities, and the openness to learn from past mistakes and work sincerely to be a more equitable, anti-racist organisation.

“The resignation of Pride in London’s entire community advisory board because of a hostile environment and a culture of bullying only confirms our belief that the leadership at Pride in London must change.

“At Stonewall, people of colour within our organisation have experienced institutional racism, and we continue to challenge the biases of a predominantly white leadership.

“It is imperative for white-led organisations working for social justice to reflect honestly on the racism within our own institutions and take meaningful, concerted and sustainable action to address it.”

In a prior statement following Afflick’s resignation, Pride in London acknowledged it “missed the mark” in terms of supporting its Black and POC volunteers as it vowed to change.

“The board of directors takes full accountability of the organisation’s diversity and inclusion,” a spokesperson said.

“To begin to address some of these issues, we developed a diversity and inclusion strategy last year which we are in the process of implementing, though we are very much still on this journey.”