Activists condemn government’s anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric at ‘Stand Against Suella’ protest

Crowds gathering outside Parliament Square during the Stand Against Suella protest.

A Pride in London protest against Suella Braverman’s recent anti-LGBTQ+ comments has seen a massive turnout as activists come together to “hold the government accountable.”

Pro-LGBTQ+ flags and signs were waved amid the crowd of protestors in Parliament Square on Sunday (1 October) as the crowd signalled that “refugees are welcome here.”

The protest – dubbed the “Stand Against Suella” march – was organised by Pride in London and the African Rainbow Family after Suella Braverman claimed that facing discrimination for being LGBTQ+ was not a “sufficient” enough reason to claim asylum in the UK.

She subsequently claimed that refugees were trying to “game” the system by pretending to be gay in order to gain “special treatment” from the government.

“Home secretary Suella Braverman’s remarks impinge on fundamental LGBTQ+ rights and dignity,” a spokesperson for Pride in London said in a statement to PinkNews. “We cannot stay silent when a senior government official promotes such harmful views.”

Pride in London noted that, as signatories of the 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1998 Human Rights Act, the UK “holds the responsibility” to protect refugees facing serious discrimination.

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“We can send a powerful message to Suella and the government that they cannot trample LGBTQ+ rights,” it continued. “Together, we can make our voices heard.”

Crowds gathered outside of Parliament at 3pm to hear members of the community speak out against the growing anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric within the conservative party and the UK government.

Aidsmap executive director and LGBTQ+ activist, Matthew Hodson, wrote in a post on X, formerly Twitter, that just 1 per cent of asylum seekers in the UK in 2021 did so “on the grounds of sexual orientation.”

“The homophobic laws that threaten LGBTQ+ lives often originated in colonial-era law,” he continued. “Shame on Suella Braverman for her inflammatory comments.”

During the protest, the African Rainbow Family group shared an open letter on social media requesting six key policy changes to help right the wrongs of Braverman’s anti-LGBTQ+ speech.

These include a retraction of her statements referring to LGBTQ+ asylum seekers, helping protect LGBTQ+ people across the world through the UK’s legacy as a “High Contracting party of the Refugee Convention,” and facilitating the UK’s commitments to human rights.

It continued that Braverman’s attempts to “redefine the parameters warranting protection” are “unfounded” and could potentially cause “untold damage” to marginalised groups.

“We strongly believe that if someone is subjected to criminalisation and persecution solely based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity in their home country, it should be unquestionably and absolutely be enough reason to grant them asylum and protection,” the statement continued.

There are currently 64 countries that criminalise the LGBTQ+ community across the globe, with many putting openly queer citizens to death.

The demonstration also became a chance for protestors to condemn wider failures by the UK government, including a recent suggestion that it could scrap the long-awaited conversion therapy ban.

Shadow women and equalities minister, Anneliese Dodds, described the U-turn as a betrayal and accused Sunak of heading a “zombie government.”