Pride in London: Protesters target government, polluters and dictators

Protest was front and centre of Pride in London this year, with activists and famous faces alike taking action on behalf of various issues. 

On Saturday (1 July) more than a million people flocked to the capital to celebrate Pride in London – which has been taking place in the city since 1972 – by watching the parade, performances and soaking up the atmosphere. 

This year, several activist groups used the annual Pride event as a means of raising awareness for various causes, a number of which employed disruptive tactics to get Pride-goers attention. 

At around 1.30pm, Just Stop Oil protesters halted the parade by lying down in front of the floats and spraying black paint on the road.

The environmental activism group were demonstrating against Pride in London sponsorship deals, which include major US airline United. 

Prior to Saturday, the group threatened to take action against the organisers of the annual Pride event if they did not meet their demands, such as providing details of their sponsorship deals and making a statement urging an end to new gas and oil contracts.

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As Pride in London did not fulfil these demands, activists announced action on Friday (30 June) and then blocked the parade route on the day of Pride. 

The parade restarted at around 1.47pm after police arrested seven individuals and removed them from in front of the parade. 

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PinkNews has contacted the Metropolitan Police for the latest on the arrests. 

Just Stop Oil protesters halted the Pride in London parade (Just Stop Oil on Twitter)

Following this, the parade was stopped for a second time when hundreds of marchers, including Ugandan LGBT+ refugees, staged a sit-down protest outside the Ugandan High Commission in Trafalgar Square to protest the country’s draconian Anti-Homosexuality Bill. 

In May, Uganda’s parliament passed the anti-gay law which makes advocating for LGBTQ+ rights and having knowledge of LGBTQ+ people a criminal offence, as well as this it makes the death penalty a possibility for ‘aggravated homosexuality’. 

This applies to certain same-sex acts, such as sexual relations involving people living with HIV or disabilities, as well as serious criminal offences such as rape and sexual abuse of children.

Organised by the Peter Tatchell Foundation, alongside the African Equality Foundation and Out and Proud African LGBTI, the demonstrators urged the government and international community to impose travel bans and asset freezes on Ugandan MPs who voted for the law. 

Sitting down in Trafalgar Square, the marchers chanted slogans and held placards, including ‘Sanction Uganda over anti-LGBT+ laws’ and ‘Uganda! Scrap homophobic laws!’. 

“We took non-violent direct action outside Uganda House to stand in solidarity with heroic Ugandan LGBT+ campaigners and to register our strong objection to the new Uganda legislation,” campaigner Peter Tatchell said. 

“It is one of the most sweeping & draconian homophobic laws in the world. Almost every aspect of LGBT+ existence is outlawed, including LGBT+ sex, advocacy, and organisation. 

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“The Act violates the Commonwealth Charter. It also breaches Article 21 of the Uganda constitution, which guarantees equal treatment and prohibits discrimination.” 

Hundreds of people protested outside the Ugandan High Commission (Supplied)

Gay Ugandan Abbey Kiwanuka, of Out and Proud African LGBTI, described Uganda as “going backwards”. 

“As LGBTI Ugandans, we are not even asking for same-sex marriage; we are advocating for LGBTI people to be left free to love whoever they want without fear of harm,” Kiwanuka said. 

“Politicians in Uganda scapegoat LGBTIs and use homosexuality as a pretext to divert people from questioning their failed policies. 

“It’s high time Ugandans woke up and realised that homosexuality is not the cause of people’s suffering. The problem is the rotten, corrupt system.”

Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants, inspired by the 1980s group Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners, took to social media to call out Pride in London for including certain groups in the parade march. 

The campaign group called out the Metropolitan Police’s LGBTQ+ network, LGBTQ+ parliament network ParliOUT and the event’s headline sponsor, United. 

“Pride is a protest. Pride is a chance to be camp and joyful. Pride is not a free pass for corrupt organisations!,” the group wrote in a tweet. 

The cast of Netflix’s hit show Heartstopper gave anti-LGBTQ+ religious protesters the middle finger at Pride in London (PinkNews)

During the parade itself, the Heartstopper cast also made their feelings known, but towards the anti-LGBTQ+ religious protesters who turned out to demonstrate against Pride. 

Whilst travelling along the parade route on their very own float, the young cast passed a small group of bigots who were out rallying against Pride in London. 

The stars, including Joe Locke, Kit Conner and Yasmin Finney, flipped the protesters off and sarcastically blew kisses at them.

Prior to this, the cast were spreading all the queer joy and could be seen getting into the Pride spirit by dancing to Beyonce, interacting with fans and taking adorable pictures with each other.

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