Unite the Union Statement on London Pride
Equal and fair treatment both at work and in society is a key priority for our union, and we make it clear that we all have a duty to challenge discrimination, harassment and bullying whenever possible. Unite is proud to be a campaigning union and is proud of the work it has done over many years to support equality, particularly within the LGBT+ community.
Sadly, many Pride organisations have come to believe that Pride should be a 'party', or an opportunity to promote their 'brand', and balk at the idea that it should in any way have a 'political' aspect.
Unite acknowledges the need for Pride to be a celebration, but of our communities and identities and therefore we believe that there must be an equal emphasis on campaigning. Pride must give a voice to those members of the LGBT+ community who cannot speak for themselves, to campaign for all the rights still missing both at home and abroad.
We appreciate that big events such as London, Manchester, Brighton Pride etc., require massive financial investment. That is not disputed. However, the commercialisation of many Pride events has led to what was a protest movement being subsumed into the commercial mainstream as the multinationals try to co-opt the 'hipness' of LGBT+ society and the power of the 'pink pound' for their own commercial gain. The messages of protest, resistance and solidarity with marginalised members of the LGBT+ community across the globe has been watered down to the point of almost vanishing from many events completely.
On its website Pride in London says that it exists "to continue to fight for true equality and challenge prejudices that the LGBT+ community still sadly face on a daily basis."
They say that their mission is to "be fully inclusive of all sections of the LGBT+ community, free at the point of access"; and to "provide a celebration of LGBT+ life and a platform to continue the fight for equality and to challenge prejudice".
However, over the past few years we have witnessed that the views of LGBT+ community organisations, including LGBT+ trade unionists, are being side-lined in favour of offering large corporations, many of whom have dubious records on supporting LGBT+ rights, the chance to participate in one of the UK's largest advertising jamborees. The fact that you need to pay to participate in this march is in itself, questionable. LGBT+ people and supporters should be able to join Pride freely as it marches through London, as was customary. London Pride has in our opinion become too closely linked to corporate advertising. Some companies have made genuine advancements in the workplace and extending their support at Pride is welcome, but not at the expense of the diverse voice of LGBT+ communities.
Therefore, Unite will not be attending London Pride in 2018, and urge the organisers to reach out and engage more with LGBT+ community organisations and LGBT+ trade unionists to address the concerns raised. We look forward to being able to participate in future years.
Pride is an important celebration of LGBT+ people and the achievements made towards total equality the world over, however it must never be forgotten that the Pride movement began as a campaign and protest to challenge exclusion, oppression and inequality. From its inception, Pride was political, and it is important that it remains so today.
Unite will participate in more regional community-based Pride events supporting local LGBT+ communities across the UK and will also be increasing its support for UK Black Pride.
Please join us at these Pride events where we will be taking the message out to LGBT+ people that Unite the union stands up for LGBT+ workers and LGBT+ communities across the UK and for marginalised and oppressed LGBT+ people around the world.