12 Days Remaining

Thursday 4th
posted by Luke James in Britain

Lesbian and gay group rejects invitation so they can march alongside union comrades on parade

THE legendary Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners (LGSM) group has rejected an invitation to lead London Pride amid a row over the parade’s politics. 

The miners’ strike heroes announced their withdrawal yesterday after organisers refused to allow trade union members to head the march with them. LGSM made the “difficult decision” to withdraw less than a week after revealing it had been handed the prestigious role. The invitation from the London Pride board came after the success of Pride, the Bafta-winning film about solidarity between the LGBT and mining communities during the 1984-85 strike. 

Original LGSM members were set to lead the June 27 parade alongside stars of the film and a sea of trade union members.

But the Star revealed this week that the London Pride board planned to make trade unions march behind a host of big-money sponsors. Floats from Barclays, Starbucks and Citi Bank have been placed ahead of the TUC block in its parade order.

Organisers argued it would be impossible to accommodate the large numbers of trade unionists planning to march with LGSM. Members of LGSM and the TUC LGBT committee proposed a compromise which would see union members march behind, but close to the group.  But the Pride board insisted that the unions marched in block C — leaving them more than a mile behind their comrades in LGSM.

Now LGSM have decided that if the trade unions cannot march with them, they will march with the trade unions.

LGSM co-founder and secretary Mike Jackson said the group had been “the victims of our own popularity.

“It would have been a treat to lead the parade, but we don’t have to be the front line,” he said. “It’s more important to us that we’ve been on picket lines, to be honest.”

Mr Jackson played down the dispute yesterday, saying that the group “understands the logistical challenges” of organising such a large parade. Around 259 different groups are set to join this year’s parade — 100 more than last year’s event when 30,000 people marched. 

But the LGBT committee of the TUC, which sponsors London Pride, is considering withholding funding for the event in protest against its treatment. The money may instead be spent on publicity material to mobilise the biggest ever trade union presence at London Pride. 

Activists believe that some Pride organisers want to depoliticise the event, with trade union support swapped for cash from corportations keen to bolster their LGBT credentials. And the organisers faced further criticism earlier this month after it was revealed that Ukip’s LGBT group will also join the parade for the first time.

A source told the Star: “For many years there are some people involve in Pride who wanted to airbrush out the true history of how LGBT liberation was won.

“The trade union movement and socialists forced the issue on to the agenda. We want a proper remembrance of our history.”

London Pride will now be led by representatives of LGBT communities across the world carrying their national flags.

A spokesman said: “We have made a small change to the previously published parade order to meet the request for LGSM and the TUC groups to march together.

“This will put a major highlight into the heart of the parade, which is set to be the biggest and brightest in years.