The organisation that runs Pride in London has denied allegations from its own community advisory board that bosses refused to meet with activists from UK Black Pride.
UK Black Pride, which traditionally takes place the day after the Pride in London parade, celebrates black and minority ethnic voices within the LGBT community.
Pride in London, which hosts its own Pride in the Park event on the same day, has long faced questions about its failure to properly engage with BAME voices.
In a shocking report today, Pride in London’s own Independent Community Advisory Board (CAB) tore into the organisation over its perceived failures.
The report alleges: “We have seen compelling evidence from a reliable third-party source that the relationship of trust and confidence between [Pride in London organisers] LLCP and UKBP has broken down irretrievably.
“From that evidence, we have concluded that the responsibility for that breakdown lies exclusively with the LLCP Board who have, at every stage, obfuscated and declined to meet with UKBP even through facilitated mediation.”
A Pride in London spokesperson strongly denied the claims.
The spokesperson told PinkNews: “We categorically refute the allegation made in the CAB report that we have declined to meet with UK Black Pride.
“A number of meetings took place in the run up to the event in order to ensure successful delivery of the Sunday activities.
“We have also invited UKBP, as is standard procedure post-event, to a debrief session so we can look at what worked well and where lessons need to be learned for the future.”
The report continues: “Feedback around the Pride in the Park event and the lack of interconnectivity with UK Black Pride has been negative.
“It was also noted that panel discussions taking place during the Pride in the Park event failed to have any BAME representation on them, despite the fact that UKBP was taking place mere metres away.
“The CAB remains strongly of the view that 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.”
The advisory group added: “London is one of the most diverse cities in the world. People from hundreds of nationalities, faiths, racial backgrounds, and gender and sexual identities live here. LGBT+ people in London, and those who travel to Pride from across the rest of the UK and the world are drawn from those diverse backgrounds and cultures and it is essential that Pride in London is welcoming and inclusive.
“Unfortunately this year, there have been a significant number of issues, which has led the CAB to reach the conclusion that LLCP, the current Pride organisers, have failed to grasp the importance of this diversity, nor of the intersectionalities that many LGBT+ people experience around race, gender, age, disability, and even their sexual orientation and identity.
“The CAB fundamentally believes diversity is more than a buzzword, and that one of the most important metrics for a successful Pride event is a meaningful reflection of our communities’ diversity. This must be done in a systematic and thorough way and not simply tokenistically.”
PinkNews has reached out to UK Black Pride for comment.
CAB Deputy Chair, Edward Lord OBE, said: “This has not been an easy report to write. The CAB wants Pride to succeed, and we pay tribute to the LLCP Board for the growth of the event over the last five years and for the positive profile that it has generated for LGBT+ people in London and beyond.
“We regret however that this has been at the cost of the more marginalised members of our communities, those who are already so often erased or ignored.
“We fundamentally believe that Pride needs to be for all LGBT+ people.”
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A spokesperson for the Mayor of London told PinkNews: “Ensuring that all members of the LGBT+ community feel safe, happy and valued is of the upmost importance to the Mayor. As is the case with all Mayor-supported events, City Hall is working with Pride in London to ensure that diversity is placed at the heart of the festivities.
“City Hall is working to put in place a new funding agreement with Pride in London, which will ensure that next year’s festival is bigger, better and more inclusive than ever.”
A spokesperson for Pride in London strongly hit back at the report.
The 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. The 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.”