Today has brought the release of the London Pride 2015 parade line-up. There are many great groups listed, and the list really shows how diverse a nation we have become. I have always loved pride because of its diversity. As an attendee/steward and a gay woman I have seen every walk of life possible in the LGBT and straight world. I know so many straight people that attend too! Seldom have I felt that atmosphere, the welcoming, the acceptance. Pride, to me, says that anything goes. It says that there is no right or wrong label, appearance, style, mannerism. It says to hell with conformity and hello to freedom. Liberty. It says we are here, loud and proud, to say we are equals. I like to think that even though it has become much more of a celebration than a protest, pride might encourage one more person to be themselves, one more person to come out of the closet, one more person to live. There is too much tragedy in the world, and the weight of a hidden identity, a hidden piece of the human puzzle, is unbearable. If my being out changes just one person's life, I'll be happy. That is why it is worth it.
However, the line up features the UKIP LGBT+ group. As many people can imagine, this got my, and many others, attention. I have absolutely nothing against LGBT+ groups at all, but my knowledge of UKIP over time is racism, for starters.
Around the recent election, the party made no comment on #LGBT rights. They recently voted against same-sex marriage being recognised EU-wide. In fact, they want us to separate from the EU altogether. I haven't done enough research to comment on the EU debate, but I'm not convinced leaving the EU is a good idea. They propose some sort of control on immigration. I understand where people come from when they talk about so much demand on British resources from immigrants, but everyone demands. I was taught charity, love thy neighbour, share and share alike. Yes, we should support the people around us, but England and the UK as a whole are much better off then many other countries. If we can offer safety and security when other countries can't, surely we have a civil duty to do just that? When it comes to asylum for homosexuals, I think, I live in a country where I can legally partake in such activities and even marry. There are still many countries that punish homosexuality with death. If I were a lesbian in one of those countries, where such harrowing acts go on, I would want another country to offer my solace, that's for sure! I think I read somewhere that UKIP are against foreign nationals receiving HIV treatment on the NHS. How selfish! To me, that should be a crime in itself. To deny treatment to anyone suffering any potentially fatal illness is murder, in my book. Again, I'm not religious, but love thy neighbour. Doesn't that apply to our foreign neighbours too?
Moving on, (I don't want to dwell on the negatives or detract from potential positives), despite the members of this group identifying as #LGBT+ or allies, I struggle to see past the fact they support such a party, which is against equality. I do not deny them their right to march, but if they felt so strongly, could they not have marched with one of the many other groups? Volunteered? Something. To me, to march under the title of UKIP LGBT+ is not the way to go. How can an apparently anti-gay group have a gay group? How can those members support such a party? I do not know. Perhaps that is the bigger issue: not that UKIP is marching, but that there are people out there who identify with the groups that the party does not support. Or further still, could this controversial decision lead to problems on the parade day itself? I would not feel comfortable marching when the group is also, because of the political party they represent. If I were BAME, I would potentially fear for my safety. I very much doubt the members of that group are of any threat, but that doesn't stop people feeling vulnerable. On the other hand, those members might feel vulnerable, because of the recent press. I fear for them too, because even though they support UKIP, does that mean they deserve to feel vulnerable themselves? How can a group that promotes equality alienate a select group of people? How can they not?
Pride in London
UKIP Manifesto 2015
UKIP LGBT+ Facebook page