Climate activists protest PinkNews Awards 2023 over sponsor fossil fuel links

Fossil Fuel Pride protesters

Climate change activism group Fossil Free Pride has staged a protest at this year’s PinkNews Awards.

The group gathered outside a central London venue, where the annual event – partially sponsored by Lloyds Bank – was being held, to protest against the company, and corporate sponsors who have links to fossil-fuel organisations.

Despite the heavy rain, a small number of protesters gathered outside the venue, as guests began to arrive for the 10th annual awards evening. Some wore drag, others wore black horse heads, and held signs visible for guests to see, as they danced to rave tunes and chanted “pump ass, not gas” on a loudspeaker.

A spokesperson for Fossil Fuel Pride told PinkNews the protest had been organised due, in part, to its own reporting on the impact of climate change on the global LGBTQ+ community.

“We are protesting at this event because PinkNews is an outlet that has reported on the disproportionate consequences of the climate emergency on LGBTQ+ people but has still chosen to prioritise their bottom line,” they said.

“As a news organisation that is well aware of the consequences of climate collapse, it is unethical to allow corporations that invest in oil and gas to present themselves as ‘diverse’ and invested in ‘equality’ and ‘inclusion’ via sponsorship.”

You may like to watch

The group has called on PinkNews to end “partnerships with organisations funding the climate crisis”, to “be transparent” about relationships with companies linked with the fossil-fuel industry, and outline plans to move away from them.

It described PinkNews’ corporate relationships as upsetting, adding: “We deserve and demand better.”

‘Proud to be a wholly independent publisher’

PinkNews chief executive Benjamin Cohen said the organisation “celebrates” groups such as Fossil Fuel Pride, who “push for change”.

He went on to say: “We support the right to protest and we understand why Fossil Free Pride has chosen our platform to raise awareness about vital climate issues.

“These are issues that are important to all of us and we recognise the scale of change the world needs to make to protect against climate catastrophe.”

The company carefully considered its position on the sponsors for this year’s event, and that “as we look to the future, we are exploring how to further integrate climate concerns into our partnerships decision-making,” he added.

“Banks are an essential service we all need and we hope to bring our influence, as the world’s largest LGBTQ+-led media publisher, to bear when we work with financial institutions in the future, and drive change from within these relationships.

“We are proud to be a wholly independent publisher, thanks to the revenue we make from our award-winning content. That independence allows us to tell a huge variety of stories, through a queer and pro-trans lens which is vanishingly rare in Anglophone media.”

Fossil Free Pride sign at PinkNews protest
Protesters made themselves heard and seen at the London venue. (Credit: PinkNews)

In a statement before the protest, Fossil Free Pride said it values “prominent queer media” but wants “our media to be the best it can be”.

It added: “We need a media that doesn’t provide advertisement opportunities to fossil fuel funders.”

In social media posts, Fossil Free Pride accused both Lloyds Bank and The Royal Bank of Canada of funding fossil-fuel projects worth billions of dollars.

Lloyds Bank has promised it will “phase out all existing insurance policies for fossil-fuel projects”.

PinkNews Awards 2023’s ground-breaking broadcast award nominee What the Trans pulled out of the event “with regret” a week ago because of the group’s campaigning.

“The climate crisis has a disproportionate impact on people in the global south and the effects of global challenges always disproportionally affect minorities, including the LGBTQ+ community,” What the Trans said in a statement last week.

“While the climate crisis does not discriminate, relief and recovery practices do.

“Companies sponsoring corporate LGBTQ+ events is how they try to make themselves look good, when in reality their actions are harming people and our planet every day.”

In July, stars including comedian Joe Lycett and drag legend Cheddar Gorgeous, pulled out of planned appearances at the British LGBT Awards after a similar campaign by Fossil Free Pride.