Leading gay rights activist Peter Tatchell has
launched a scathing attack on both the Mayor of London and the Greater London
Authority. He suggests that not only has the Mayor failed to salvage the World
Pride celebrations but that he and his office may have contributed to the
financial problems and may see this as a desirable way of giving control of
Pride to major corporations.
In a press release, Tatchell - a human rights
campaigner for the past 40 years – claims that Boris Johnson, who has confirmed
that he will not be attending the event, has made a decision not to help rescue
Stating that he has received information from
insiders Mr Tatchell claims ‘City Hall has known about the problems for many
weeks. There is concern about the behaviour of some officials connected to the
Mayor, and perhaps the Mayor himself.’
He continues, “Like Pride, the mayoral team failed to
involve other LGBT stakeholders and financiers to raise extra cash and to draft
a credible rescue plan. If the Mayor had acted weeks ago, we would not be in
Mr Tatchell alleges a catalogue of failings,
· The Mayor’s office
refused over £60,000 of emergency funding last week from Gaydar and Smirnoff,
saying it was ‘too late’ without adequately explaining why;
· The GLA may have contributed to
the financial problems of this years events by allegedly doubling the hire rate
for the Trafalgar Square rally from £50,000 last year to £100,000 this year and
forcing Pride ‘to use contractors who are not the cheapest’;
- The GLA has forced Pride London to pay for
everything up front, which has contributed to a cash flow problem.
The Mayor demanded that Pride London do not allow Mr Tatchell to speak
on the main stage in Trafalgar Square and has insinuated that if they do so the
whole event may be cancelled.
- The Mayor’s team has, in effect, gagged the Pride
organisers by requiring them to submit all news releases to City Hall for
approval. Changes in wording have been demanded by City Hall, which some say
suit the spin the Mayor’s office wants to put on the Pride fiasco. The Pride
committee is not free to communicate with the LGBT community. It is alleged
that Pride’s contract with City Hall gives mayoral bosses a veto over what the
Pride committee can and cannot say publicly.
- Westminster council has sent a letter to
Soho’s gay venues which some have interpreted as a threat, suggesting they may have
their licences revoked if they play loud music or allow people to stand in the
streets, something that happens every year and will be exceptionally difficult
- Westminster council has failed to
explain how up to 250,000 people are expected to cram into 20 Soho gay venues
with a maximum capacity of 5,000 people.
Mr Tatchell has also accused the Mayor’s office of
‘demonising’ the Pride event, bringing the start time forward to 11am (from
1pm) citing ‘problems’ and ‘security concerns’ without substantiating or
explaining these claims. Mr Tatchell claims the change is ‘a recipe for chaos
and destruction’, as it will interfere with people’s travel plans and
organisation on the day with many community groups having pre booked trains and
coaches. Instead of an organised march, Mr Tatchell is predicting ‘tens of
thousands of disorganised people [swarming] through the streets…blocking
traffic and causing gridlock’. The press release further states:
‘No plans have been made by the Mayor or Westminster Council to deal with the
vast numbers of people expected on Saturday; apart from turning people away and
dispersing them, which could lead to angry crowds and potential public order
Mr Tatchell is calling for the Mayor to respond to the allegations, saying
Boris Johnson has ‘a duty to help save Pride’ as its failure could cause ‘a
huge embarrassment for London, just three weeks before the Olympics.’
He suggests this may be something that the Mayor
sees as a positive move.
are already discussing a take-over of Pride. They are not displeased with the
current failings. They see Pride as a commodity and a financial opportunity.
They want to turn Pride into a largely depoliticised commercial event. The GLA
is understood to be sympathetic. This would diminish the LGBT community links
and betray the ideals and values of Pride.
“It is difficult
to say which of these problems have been compounded by the Mayor and which ones
are the result of over-zealous officials.
“Although I believe these allegations to be true,
based on information I have received, they are, at this stage, allegations not
proven facts. Nevertheless, they have more than a whiff of credibility and they
demand open disclosure and honest answers from Mayor Johnson.
“Regardless of the current shambles, the parade will
go head. Without the floats and parties, it will revert to its roots - a
protest march for LGBT human rights. The Pride slogan is: “Decriminalise
homosexuality worldwide - Global equality for LGBT people.” This is entirely
appropriate, as July is the 40th anniversary of the UK’s first-ever Gay Pride
parade, which took place in London on 1 July 1972.