Current Affairs

Exclusive: London mayor Boris Johnson scraps Pride reception

Jessica Geen June 2, 2010
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London mayor Boris Johnson is scrapping the usual London Pride mayoral reception.

The mayor usually holds a reception to mark London’s biggest gay festival but City Hall has decided to end receptions which are specific to minority groups.

Deputy mayor Richard Barnes announced the change at an LGBT engagement meeting last week.

Instead, he said that “borough community receptions” would be held and he would ensure the events have LGBT representation.

These receptions will be held for geographical areas of London rather than sections of the population. City Hall officials are still drawing up plans on how often they will be held.

Mr Johnson’s spokesman said the idea was to avoid divisions and said the mayor wanted to “bring people together rather than focusing on what is different”.

He said he could not yet confirm whether Mr Johnson would join the parade on July 3rd but said the mayor would be supporting the festival.

On the new receptions, he said: “The mayor wants to transform the way City Hall engages with London’s varied communities and is introducing a new programme of borough community receptions, with the aim of individuals being represented from as many different groups as possible, including LGBT Londoners.”

Mr Johnson faced criticism in 2008 for scrapping the LGBT advisory panel set up by his predecessor Ken Livingstone. He also cut funding for Soho Pride to divert money to tackle homophobic hate crime and withdrew the Greater London Authority from Stonewall’s list of the most gay-friendly employers.

Pride London spokesman Colm Howard-Lloyd told that the reception was “not under our control”.

“Things in the public sector are pretty tough right now but City Hall does still sponsor us a decent amount,” he added.

City Hall is the festival’s largest sponsor and is expected to give the event “roughly” £100,000 this year.

Mr Howard-Lloyd said the event costs are “roughly similar” each year and estimated 2010’s event to cost £300,000. Pride London has not yet published its 2009 financial reports.

According to minutes from last week’s meeting, Pride representative Stuart Sloane said the event was struggling to obtain funding from the major banks which usually sponsor it.

But Mr Howard-Lloyd said representatives from Deutsche Bank and Interbank were at the meeting and one had since approached the festival.

He said: “We’ve always had problems getting sponsors. I wouldn’t say there was a particular problem this year. It’s a solid amount. We have enough to hold the event.

“It would be fair to say we are still looking for sponsors.

“There is certainly no crisis – it would be libellous to say there was.”

Mr Howard-Lloyd added that there was a City Hall moratorium on such spending but he thought it would be “highly unlikely” that it would not sponsor next year’s event as the money came from tourism initiatives.

“We can prove return in cash terms,” he said.

Related topics: London

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