YES – Andrelina Rhamdun
The exclusion of UKIP from the London Pride parade has been effectuated, much to the dismay of certain advocates of the freedom of speech or the freedom of association and peaceful protest.
Despite the fact that this ban is justified under security reasons, underlining the need to put their volunteers’ safety first, the broader issues of the clash of the main objectives of UKIP and the parade have been raised. There is a need for action with clear motives which recognises that the freedom of speech and association, like any other rights, has its limitations. Speaking out against hateful speech, one of the key aims of the gay pride movement, calls for action against a party which discriminates against minority groups.
The main objectives of the London Pride parade is to raise awareness of the need for inclusivity and tolerance for those who lack rights. UKIP cannot be said to advocate the same values and many fail to realise that the parade is not a place for open debate about sensitive issues, It is a place for LGBT advocates to reclaim pride and raise awareness.
UKIP remains stiff in their position against same-sex marriage. Farage claims that the gay community have gained the respect they deserve through the Civil Partnership Act, as if there is not much more they can ask for.
Allowing UKIP to join the parade would seem redundant on that line of argument as the parade is, as well as being a march to commemorate the Stonewall Riots, a march for continual awareness of the need for tolerance of those oppressed alongside the hope for progress in terms of the rights already established. The fight for respect, equality and tolerance isn’t over yet, and the LGBT community must have their full say before they can be challenged. If UKIP opposes this, they are more than free to form their own march.
Furthermore, the parade reserves the right to exclude organisations which are in opposition to the values it stands for. Even though UKIP may appeal to the freedom of association, this can be overturned as the freedom of association necessarily acknowledges the need for the expulsion of membership on the basis of the incompatibility of aims.
Though it is arguable that the freedom of expression disappears with this exclusion, we must remember that if a right is not open to scrutiny, and restricted and prioritised when thoroughly necessary, it will be elevated to dogma. It will become unquestionable and unreasonable, a right which is not worth having in the first place.
Lastly, the fact that the petition represents the overwhelming fact that the people have spoken and they have chosen to remove UKIP’s membership displays that there is a consensus on the dismissal of UKIP’s principles.
This outcry portrays a need for preventative action in the advocacy of the respect for all, whatever their race, colour or sexual orientation.
NO – Niall Whitehead
So it turns out we won’t be seeing UKIP show up in a gay pride parade. While some might say that that sentence isn’t exactly surprising, over the last week it’s actually become quite controversial: one of Britain’s biggest gay pride parades, the Pride in London march, has rescinded an invitation for UKIP to take part. Organisers claim that the rejection was made on “safety grounds” rather than political reasons. However, another likely factor was the petition on change.org demanding their removal, signed by 2,383 people, which declared UKIP’s inclusion would be the “death knell of Pride”.
It actually makes sense that UKIP would try to extend a hand to the LGBTQ community. According to the BBC and the results of this year’s general election, the views of UKIP represent 12.6 per cent of the country. This is obviously a big boost to their legitimacy as a political party, and a chance for them to smooth out what you might charitably call their “rougher edges”.
No more does UKIP want to be that party who claimed gay marriage causes floods or that gay couples adopting children would be “unhealthy”! Now they’re trying to paint themselves as a reasonable political force, trying to accrue votes and support wherever they can find them. In fact, they have their own chair of LGBTQ issues, Flo Lewis, fighting under the banner of “Out and Proud” in conferences around the country.
So naturally, the ban’s provoked controversy. Some say that LGBTQ individuals should be welcomed into the fold regardless of their beliefs. They argue that other groups whose doctrines arguably promote anti-LGBTQ sentiment – Christians and Muslims, for instance – have been happily invited into the fold without any discrimination toward their members.
Other commentators have pointed out that an apolitical event, designed to promote inclusion and solidarity turning away potential supporters due to their political affiliations arguably goes against everything the event was created to support. UKIP representative Suzanne Evans summed up the argument in a tweet – “Be proud to be gay, they say! But not if you vote UKIP. Who are the bigots here?”
To expect all LGBTQ people to conform to a specific political ideology, and to cast out all those who do not fit that mould, arguably plays up to the same spirit of exclusionism that UKIP’s so often criticized for invoking. It works to alienate and divide members of the LGBTQ community who also happen to agree with UKIP’s ideology regarding Europe and economic issues.
And critics of UKIP have also argued this rejection has fueled their “martyr complex”. It certainly seems that straight rejection would have worked better than inviting them first: as it stands, the controversy (complete with UKIP members threatening legal action or insisting they’ll show up anyway) threatens to overshadow the message of LGBTQ acceptance and pride that the event was literally named after.
Overall, Pride should promote acceptance – of allies who truly wish to help the cause as much as anyone else, regardless of political beliefs – over the politics of discrimination and exclusionism.