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Pride in London blasted for failing to ‘grasp the importance of diversity’ in new report

By Ross Semple

Pride in London’s Independent Community Advisory Board (CAB) has released a detailed report on Pride in London 2017, criticising the event for its lack of diversity and failing to recognise the importance of intersectionality.

The Board was also critical of Pride in London’s #LoveHappensHere marketing campaign, which was roundly criticised got being heteronormative, cis, and erasing of BAME people, bi people, and trans people.

The group also suggested that bisexual people should be the focus of next year’s event, but Pride in London have questioned the accuracy of some of the feedback provided

The CAB, which is made up of people from different strands of London’s LGBT+ community, has issued a number of recommendations for future Pride events in the capital, which range from investment in underrepresented areas to issues with corporate wristbands.

The recommendations are as follows:

  • Full involvement and integration of BAME LGBT+ people into Pride in London is essential to achieve a cohesive and inclusive event, and recommends that the best way to achieve this is to support and resource UK Black Pride, and ensure that BAME LGBT+ people are represented not just at Pride in the Park, but on all stages and in all Pride events.
  • Pride in London should follow the example of Tel Aviv Pride this year, by making bi people the central focus of the Pride Parade in 2018 or 2019, which would require full engagement of bi people and groups in both planning and execution. Going forward, it may be appropriate that each year, one of the more marginalised sections of London’s LGBT communities – for example, BAME, bi, trans, and intersex people – should, on rotation, be given pride of the place in the Parade.
  • Membership of all panels must be arranged significantly ahead of time and should be constituted to represent the breadth of diversity of London’s LGBT+ communities.
  • Pride organisers institute a text message system for future years, enabling mass SMS advice to be disseminated to group leaders about any unexpected delays or issues.
  • Is there any need for wristbands or whether it may be possible to once again operate the Parade without the issuing of wristbands, which is in itself a potentially discriminatory process especially for small organisations, informal groups and individuals. who decide late in the day that they would like to take part in the Parade?
  • Organisers impose a limit on the maximum number of wristbands any one organisation can have, perhaps at 250.
  • Ways the poster campaign might have been made better were by using names that clearly were, for example, of people from a south Asian background, and by including the simple age and gender pronoun in brackets after the name.
  • Pride marketing campaigns should reflect the broadest extent of LGBT+ people’s lived experiences and not solely focus on the normative lifestyles of some. It is essential that such campaigns include people from all sections of London’s LGBT+ communities, and be reflective of their intersections with race, disability, gender, age or religion.

Adrian Hyyrylainen-Trett, Chair of the CAB, said that diversity and intersectionality were his “priority”.

“We have asked members of LGBT+ communities, both individuals and respected third party organisations, to give us their view in writing so we have evidence and documentation to back up our assertions.

“For every criticism in the report, and there are many, we have suggested a reasonable and practical  solution, and where we think further transparency and openness is required, we have asked to see those conversations brought to the CAB well in advance of any decision.

“We also felt that there has been significant disquiet across the LGBT+ communities, around Pride’s corporate nature, lack of inclusion, bad handling of sensitive intersectionality issues and it felt that we needed to live up to the expectations of the role and that is providing a frank but honest report on the experiences not only from CAB members but also opinions across our communities.”

Responding to the report, Pride in London disputed the accuracy of some of the Board’s criticisms, and questioned the group’s own diversity. A spokesperson said: “Feedback on Pride in London is important to us, but we prefer for it to be accurate.

“We deliberately gather feedback from many sources, including our volunteers and the wider community through open meetings, surveys and online reporting. We do not believe the CAB report reflects the majority view nor takes in to account these other sources of data, it is also inaccurate in many places which is disrespectful to the many volunteers that work hard to deliver the event. Their report was not shared with us in advance and therefore we were not able to correct these inaccuracies.  We will be looking at each of the points they raise and we have invited them to meet with us. Unfortunately the CAB has suffered from some long standing vacancies (such as a women’s rep), which has adversely affected its ability to provide us with consistently strong and balanced guidance.

“Volunteers make Pride happen and it is their passion and commitment to the Pride cause that drives real change on the ground. Whilst there are always ways in which we can improve, our volunteers can feel proud to be delivering an event with consistently high levels of attendee satisfaction.

“Since the collapse of London’s Pride event in 2012; under community ownership, Pride in London has become one of the world’s largest and most successful Pride events. It remains volunteer-led and free to attend and enjoys strong support from agencies, partners and sponsors. Diversity and inclusion is at the core of all we do, from deciding on acts to perform, to volunteer recruitment but we are not complacent and are always looking at ways to do more. We believe we now have a strong foundation to continue to make progress in improving on diversity and inclusion amongst other issues.

“Already this year, we were able to represent our community in new ways through our Pride in London Live series reaching millions through social platforms, our largest and most diverse Pride Festival and Parade, and our first ever national TV adverts reaching millions of UK homes. We are also proud to have achieved Silver Accreditation from Attitude is Everything which recognises the standards of accessibility of the main event.

“We’re looking forward to announcing our vision and plan for the next 5 years of Pride in London.  The LGBTQ+, community will remain at the heart of everything we do and we constantly strive to do better at representing and supporting it.”

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