On Saturday, July 2, activists from the group Lesbians and Gays Support Migrants staged a die-in at London Pride 2022 to protest the presence of the police in the parade.
On the 50th anniversary of the first Pride parade in London, more than a million people gathered in the streets of the capital and around 600 LGBTQ+ groups marched along a route similar to the original protest, from Hyde Park Corner to Whitehall Palace.
This was also the first Pride to happen after all members of Pride in London’s community advisory board resigned last year in response to the organisation’s alleged “hostile environment” for POC volunteers.
The activist group Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants staged a die-in on the route of the parade, halting the march to protest the inclusion of the Metropolitan police in the event. 40 activists dressed all in black and wearing pink veils laid on the ground for 23 minutes, to represent the number of people who have died since the end of 2020 while in the Metropolitan police’s custody.
Meanwhile, other protestors held up signs with messages such as “no Pride in cops” and “no Pride in borders” and others shouted instructions on how to intervene in a police stop and search to the people around.
This action came after pressures to ban the police from attending Pride, a ban that has already been established in cities like New York and San Francisco. The debate over whether the police should have a place in the marches has been ongoing for years, given the role they have played in the history of the LGBTQ+ rights movement.
Pride in London has already faced backlash for allowing police to march, especially after accusations came in of “very serious evidence of police homophobia” over how the Met Police handled the murders of four gay men by a serial killer.
The same group that staged the die-in had previously published an open letter to Pride in London, also signed by ACT UP, the Gay Liberation Front, and African Rainbow Family, to call for uniformed police to be banned from the parade. The letter also contained a series of demands, including the exclusion of corporations who are damaging the environment and that are facilitating deportations and of groups who discriminate against other members of the LGBTQ+ community.
No doubt who speaks for our community. No LGB without the T. pic.twitter.com/7uDIIg3Drm
— John McKee (@John_McKee) July 2, 2022
“Due to our deep-rooted concerns with policing – and the history of Pride itself as resistance against police violence – it is time to end the practice of police participation in Pride each year,” stated the letter.
Sam Björn, a spokesperson from the group that organised the die-in at London Pride, spoke about the action saying: “We protested [on Saturday] because the police endanger our communities. They detain children of colour, rape women and arrest those of us at the sharpest end of society. Straight or gay, in matching rainbow t-shirts or in uniform, that has to change.”
He added: “50 years ago a Pride that looks like the one we see in London today seemed like an impossible dream. 50 years from now we know that we’ll be dancing in the streets celebrating a world free from police and their violence.”
During London Pride, another moment of defiance happened when anti-LGBTQ+ protesters showed up holding banners with homophobic slogans and just a few feet away from them the stars from Netflix show Heartstopper danced proudly to Whitney Houston’s ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’, openly challenging those who had come to ruin the happy atmosphere of the parade.
— Scott Beasley (@SkyScottBeasley) July 2, 2022
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