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Pride in London co-chairs resign with immediate effect after damning accounts of racism and bullying

Josh Milton March 19, 2021
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Side-by-side headshots of Alison Camps and Michael Salter-Church speaking behind a podium

Alison Camps and Michael Salter-Church, outgoing co-chairs of Pride in London. (Jeff Spicer/Getty Images for Pride in London)

Pride in London has announced its five most senior members, including its co-chairs, will step down following damning accounts of racism and bullying.

The non-profit has been pelted by demands for new leadership after its formerly most senior Black staffer, director of communications Rhammel Afflick, quit over a culture of racism seeped into the top of Pride in London.

His departure emboldened around 20 volunteers and its scrutiny body, the community advisory board, to quit shortly after.

On Friday evening (19 March), Pride in London co-chairs Alison Camps and Michael Salter-Church, a former adviser to the Conservative Party who founded the group in 2012, announced they had resigned “with immediate effect”.

Christopher Joell-Deshields, director of community engagement, will take over as interim co-chair, a statement confirmed.

Rhammel Afflick told PinkNews: “This is a milestone moment — many volunteers of colour will feel vindicated following the latest departures.

“But the accountability doesn’t stop here. An entirely new leadership, with a robust mandate, is needed to break away from Pride’s long history of getting it wrong for black and brown people in LGBT+ communities.”

Three other directors who have also stepped down were not named in the statement.

“All wish to put on record their thanks to LGBT+ communities for the opportunity and honour of serving as volunteers, to wish the new leadership team every success and to reaffirm their commitment to hearing and standing with marginalised communities,” the letter explained.

Pride in London described how the decision was made in response to the “urgent need for Pride in London to create a more inclusive environment, which centres Black volunteers, people of colour and other marginalised community groups”.

“A transitional board, composed of some of the existing members, will remain in place to guide the organisation forward over the coming months and to implement this transition,” the letter added.

“They will seek immediate engagement with key community stakeholders from minority groups to advise on the action plan that has been created in the last 48 hours to evolve the organisation to be better supporters of people of colour.”

The working group, the statement outlined, will hear from community leaders to create a “Diversity and Inclusion strategy and team, headed by a newly created role of Diversity and Inclusion Director”.

“Pride in London is committed to rebuilding the trust of minority communities which it knows is broken, but we hope not irreparably.

“We are aware that only through immediate and decisive action as well as demonstrable change in the coming weeks and months can we authentically show its commitment to diverse voices and experiences.”

Stonewall calls on Pride in London leaders to stand down amid ‘alarming’ accounts of racism

For many of those who departed, Pride in London’s leadership was one that stoked a “hostile environment” for some volunteers, was sluggish to tackle issues and reluctant to centre Black and POC voices and experiences.

Afflick described how some decision-makers would “ignore Black voices” and simply “look the other way” when it came to concerns over racism and the poor reputation Pride in London holds among some Black and POC communities, who consider it unwelcoming.

The avalanche of resignations and accounts prompted one of the parade’s top partners, DIVA, to cut ties with Pride in London. The magazine explicitly called for the “immediate resignation” of Salter-Church.

As the splits within Pride in London deepened, some activists and advocacy groups denounced the organisation, amplifying calls from the advisory board for leaders to step down and for the Mayor of London’s office to investigate allegations of bullying.

Stonewall had parted ways with Pride in London in 2018 and was among the first to join the growing chorus calling for team leaders to step down.

Stonewall
Stonewall marching in London Pride in 2015. (Niklas Halle’n/AFP/Getty)

Trans youth charity Mermaids also threw its weight behind the volunteers, writing in a statement: “As a charity currently working hard to confront our own challenges around the meaningful inclusion of Black, Asian and racialised trans people, we call on Pride in London to take swift and meaningful action.”

Storied activist Peter Tatchell, himself a patron of Pride in London, told PinkNews that he found Rhammel Afflick’s accounts “alarming”.

“I hope the Pride leadership will take on board the concerns expressed by the now ex-members of the community advisory board and by Black volunteers and activists. The organisation has to become more democratic, transparent, accountable, diverse and inclusive,” he wrote.

“Hopefully, these resignations will force a wholesale reform of Pride in London. For several years, it has been losing community support and confidence.”

Related topics: Pride in London

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