The organiser of UKIP’s Pride contingent has warned that new Pride in London rules could be used to prevent the group from marching.
Pride organisers faced criticism last year when they blocked the UK Independence Party’s LGBT+ group from marching citing “safety” concerns, after protests over the party’s anti-LGBT manifesto commitments.
Parliamentary candidate Richard Hendron led a contingent of UKIP LGBT+ members who flouted the ban on the day and marched without incident.
In response, the organisers of Pride in London this week confirmed plans for all future marchers to sign an ‘affirmation’ pledging their support for LGBT+ rights and equality. The new policy also bans groups who have “disrupted” past Pride events.
Speaking to PinkNews, Mr Hendron said that he will be applying for the group to march again this year – and that while he welcomes the new procedure, he is concerned it will be used to block his group from marching.
The UKIP candidate said in a statement to PinkNews: “We do fully support the core and essence of the message running through the new ‘affirmation’.
“UKIP as a Liberian [sic] party believes in respect, acceptance and inclusion regardless of race, ethnicity gender et al.
“I along with many others in UKIP are fully committed to tackling hatred and homophobia from within the party, for the benefit not just UKIP, but society at large.”
However, Mr Hendron added that he fears that Pride in London’s pledges of “collaboration for the common good” will be “just a sound bite” if UKIP are excluded again.
He continued: “The common good here is advancing LGBT issues: it’s helping those from institutions such as UKIP – that has its fair share of bigots – to stand up and be counted.
“It’s support and empowering LGBT people to be out and proud, making it known that homophobia won’t be tolerated.
“Instead of advancing the common good, I fear that Pride in London will use their wide interpretation of the subjective affirmation, to exclude UKIP from Pride.
“The organisers have clearly forgotten what it is like to be a minority, putting one’s head above the parapet tackling discrimination from the establishment, and the difficulties and perils that poses.
“If they wish to have a reminder then they should speak with me and I will be able to tell them about the vile and sickening emails amongst other things that I received on the back of organising UKIP’s contingent at Pride in London last year.
“UKIP on the whole is not homophobic, though it has and does contain a small number of pretty hideous and vile creatures, like [former UKIP candidate] Winston McKenzie.
Mr Hendron continued: “It is only by working together that we in UKIP, and we as society can truly confront both homophobia, and tolerance of homophobia.
“My passionate plea to the organisers of Pride in London is to take note of your own statement, we will only succeed when we have in their words ‘collaboration and mutual support to help promote and further the cause of LGBT+ liberation’.
“It’s time to leave Left and Right politics aside, it’s time to stand together to tackle homophobia – what ever side of the political spectrum that may be.”