Foyle Pride membership dispute prompts online petition

An online petition has been launched in response to the release of membership forms for the Foyle Pride Festival Association.

People marching with a
Image: Via Instagram

The LGBTQ+ community in Derry is divided over a Foyle Pride membership dispute, where members of the public have voiced concerns about the requirement of membership forms to join the Association.

Concerns from the public about GDPR and the potential “outing” of members has prompted the launch of a petition which is now circulating online. The petition to “Reject The Proposed & Discriminatory ‘Membership’ Registration of Foyle Pride” has 474 signatures at the time of writing.

“As members of the LGBTQIA+ community we are members of Pride already simply because we are LGBTQIA+ as is stated in the Foyle Pride constitution (the document that governs the management of Pride),” reads the description accompanying the petition.

Therefore, the public argues, there should be no need for membership forms that require more information than some members may be prepared to give. “This of course will silence the majority of the voices in our community,” the petition reads.

The organisers of the petition have also said that “this membership requests sensitive information”, such as the applicant’s sexual orientation, gender identity, address, etc, which some say could lead to the “outing” of its members as they have not seen a GDPR policy.

Meanwhile, the Festival Association says that without these forms, membership cannot be recognised. Furthermore, they inform us that there is a GDPR policy in place (which they have sent to GCN for confirmation) and that upon registering via the membership forms, the policy is then sent to the new members along with a copy of the constitution.

“The current committee are not introducing a new membership scheme,” Kathleen Bradley, Chairperson, told GCN. “Foyle Pride Festival is an unincorporated membership Association already, and has been since it was formally set up in 2010. What the current committee is doing is promoting and encouraging membership through the use of a membership application form.”

Ms Bradley went on to say that “the membership form asks for sector-standard information” rather than anything invasive or sensitive.

“What we have done is that we have created a membership form and the person that started this petition seems to think that just by being gay, you’re automatically a member of the association,” Ms Bradley told DerryNow. “The association is an entity – it’s a membership association. The gay community is the gay community – not everyone in the gay community wants to be a member of the association.”

To GCN, Ms Bradley added, “Foyle Pride Festival reached out to The Rainbow Project and Here NI and have secured both organisations to jointly facilitate an open and inclusive process of mediation for all those who have concerns. This offer of mediation has been communicated to the organiser of the petition…”

Foyle Pride is awaiting a response on the offer of mediation.

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