I pose this question because over the past few days there has been a lot of debate around London Pride’s decision to allow UKIP to be involved in their parade, before then backtracking and banning UKIP from being a part of the festival.
With many LGBT people feeling that UKIP should not be part of Pride events due to many of their representatives holding homophobic, biphobic and transphobic views, I can see why London Pride have backtracked. However, my personal view is that London Pride should not have banned UKIP.
In my opinion, UKIP should be allowed to march.
For the past three years, I have organised the Warwickshire Pride festival, which takes place in Leamington Spa each summer. Among the 75+ stalls that attend the festival, there are usually a number of political parties represented. Labour have a stall each year, my Conservative MP typically gives a speech and sticks around to enjoy the day, and other parties get involved in some form too.
This year I received a stall application from UKIP. Along with the application was a passionate email from a representative of UKIP’s local branch, who said that although he is not LGBT himself, he supports equality and had contacted UKIP’s LGBT network to ask them to join him in supporting Warwickshire Pride. The representative acknowledged that not all people would be pleased about UKIP having a presence at a Pride event due to the reputation that the party has, but demonstrated that the local branch is willing to engage positively with the LGBT community.
At first, I thought there’s no way that I could allow UKIP to have a presence at Warwickshire Pride. As an individual, I am wholly opposed to what UKIP stand for. I believe that the homophobic and racist comments that some of their representatives have made are abhorrent. However, once I calmed down a bit I began to consider that if I allow other political parties to have a presence at the festival, it’s not fair of me to ban UKIP. That would be discrimination, which is not in the spirit of Pride, and I would also be allowing my personal views to affect my professionalism. Therefore I decided to allow UKIP to book a stall.
I also took the issue to my board of trustees, who agreed that we cannot discriminate against a political party because we don’t like their views. It was decided that we either allow all political parties who want to join in with the Pride celebrations to do so or ban them all.
The fact that UKIP is making an effort to become involved with a Pride festival shows that they’re not all bad people. In every political party, there are positive and negative representatives. Just look at how many Conservative MPs were against marriage equality and other LGBT equality laws. Yet there doesn’t seem to be any protest against the Conservatives having a presence at Pride events.
Ultimately Pride is about representing all LGBT people and the entirety of our culture. I am mindful that there are LGBT people who support UKIP, despite how the party is perceived. When I began organising Warwickshire Pride I was keen to create something for everyone to enjoy, and as much as I may not like it on a personal level, that does include allowing UKIP to come along and join the celebrations.
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Opinions expressed in this article may not reflect those of THEGAYUK, its management or editorial teams. If you'd like to comment or write a comment, opinion or blog piece, please click here.