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Pride in London aims to increase Festival diversity as Stonewall quits parade and extends support for UK Black Pride

Stonewall have decided not to march in the 2018 Pride in London parade. Photo: Pride in London

Stonewall has decided not to join this year's Pride in London parade, saying it has concerns over the event's "lack of diversity". The decision seems to have backfired as many black and minority ethnic people have been showing their annoyance online.

The decision comes after an allegedly incorrect report from Pride's Commmunity Advisory Board (CAB) last year which organisers have rejected stating it was "inaccurate in many places which is disrespectful to the many volunteers that work hard to deliver the event".

The charity said it will instead switch to extend support to UK Black Pride, an event for LGBT+ people from ethnic minorities which also takes place every year in the capital on the same weekend at Pride in London.

Pride is an annual parade through the UK's capital city celebrating LGBT+ rights and protesting for equality in law and wider society. Last year it attracted more than 200 groups and 26,000 people with an estimated one million visitors. This year's parade is due to take place on Saturday July 7.

"We will always welcome Stonewall to march with Pride in the parade, and we hope to welcome their team at many community-driven events that will take place this year, during the Pride Festival.

Embracing diversity in all its forms, and supporting organisations like UK Black Pride, is absolutely at the heart of our mission as a team. We are working closely with the community advisory board and are dedicated to making Pride a success for all our communities - from those who have never been involved, to those who come back year-on-year, enabling them to celebrate, protest and march for equality."

– Pride in London spokesman

While Stonewall is a national charity with paid staff who attend more than 30 Prides around the country, Pride in London is run and lead by volunteers. One of the key differences between Pride in London and most of the bigger prides around the UK is that it is free to attend. To attend Manchester, Birmingham or Brighton Pride (where Britney Spears is headlining), tickets are required for a sizable part of the celebrations. In comparison, London's Pride parade is free to attend along with their various staging areas including the recent addition of a Women's Stage in Leicester Square.

"We know this is an event that's important to many in our communities and very much hope to attend in future years.

However last year, Pride in London's community advisory board again raised concerns about the lack of diversity and inclusion at Pride in London - particularly of black and minority ethnic communities.

Pride in London rejected those concerns from the community in the strongest terms and, as yet, have failed to make any public acknowledgement that they may need to make significant changes if Pride in London is to be an event for everyone.

After last year's event, the community advisory board released a report suggesting the event needs to improve its representation of BAME (Black and Minority Ethnic) groups"

– Stonewall spokeswoman

Pride in London has recently recruited new members to it's board of directors including Christopher Joell-Deshields, Director of Community Engagement; Alex Talcer, Director of Fundraising; Colin Campbell-Austin, Director of Volunteering and Asad Dhunna Director of Communications.

They join Co-chairs Alison Camps and Michael Salter-Church MBE; David Bloomfield, Director of Finance; Iain Walters, Director of Marketing; Polly Shute, Director of Development & Strategic Partnerships and Siobhan Linard, Director of Operations.

The make-up of the board is now:

  • 4 women
  • 3 people of colour
  • 3 white men

The decision by Stonewall has divided London's LGBT+ community with some campaigners suggesting there may have been more to Stonewall's decision than what might first appear. Many online have argued about the motive behind the withdrawal - whether that be from not being given an adequate number of wristbands for the often over-subscribed parade, to not having a 'thing to campaign for anymore'. Some have expressed that this was not the right decision for Stonewall and instead they should work with Pride in London and UK Black Pride to increase visibility and diversity at all pride events.

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