The organisers of Pride in London are facing heavy criticism after an anti-trans group was allowed to disrupt – and then lead – Saturday's parade through the capital.
A small group of around 10 women, who claimed to be protesting against "lesbian erasure" within the LGBTQ rights movement, were able to force their way to the front of the parade at its starting point.
Because no apparent action was taken to remove them, they were effectively able to "lead" the parade as it made its way down Regent Street – ahead of around 30,000 legitimate marchers.
According to LGBTQ website Pink News, the anti-trans protesters started chants of "Get the 'L' out of Pride" and held banners saying "Transactivism erases lesbians".
They also distributed leaflets filled with hateful anti-trans propaganda. Wilfully misgendering trans women, the leaflets included absurd false claims such as "heterosexual men who pretend to be women are now trying to impose themselves as 'lesbians' on the rest of the world".
The decision to allow the anti-trans group to participate in the parade caused outrage on Twitter, with trans comic artist Julia Kaye branding it "absolutely disgraceful". Read a selection of reactions below.
I wish I was at pride London right now to help people do something about those fucking anti trans bigots leading the march. How the hell has that even been allowed?!— 🏳️🌈 Cass 🏳️🌈 (@DalishCassassin) July 7, 2018
Allowing transphobes to lead the London Pride parade was an absolute disgraceful decision— Julia Kaye (@upandoutcomic) July 7, 2018
I can’t believe they were allowed to hand out their trash propaganda as crowds were apparently told to cheer them on
As if their bigotry was just another facet of the queer community
Happy #PrideInLondon everyone! I am a proud trans woman and I am proud to support ALL the #LGBT people in the world. A massive fuck you to the people highjacking #Pride to protest against trans rights. You are disgusting and pathetic 🖕 #LOVEWINS pic.twitter.com/SGsWUyNohd— Katy Montgomerie (@KatyMontgomerie) July 7, 2018
In a statement posted on Facebook, the chair of LGBT+ Liberal Democrats, Jennie Rigg, called for the organisers' resignation, writing: "I am appalled that transphobic protestors were allowed to lead the march and the crowd asked to cheer them on. This is a betrayal of the thousands marching. The Pride organisers should resign and offer a full apology."
However, a Pride in London spokesperson has defended the decision not to remove the anti-trans protestors, saying: "Every year, Pride is attended by hundreds of thousands of people who demonstrate that Pride still matters.
"Given the hot weather and in the interest of the safety for everyone attending today’s event, the parade group was allowed to move ahead. We do not condone their approach and message and hope the actions of a very small number people does not overshadow the messages of the 30,000 people marching today."
A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police added: "A small group at the front of the Pride in London parade were dealt with quickly and safely by event organisers at 1pm on Saturday. Police did not need to intervene. No arrests were made."
One marcher noted that although the anti-trans group marched at the front of the parade, they most certainly didn't lead it in spirit.
Stopping the Pride parade for hours to remove protestors would’ve been very dangerous in that heat BUT pls remember that those TERFs DID NOT “lead the parade” - they were pushed along in front of it.— Rob Holley (@robholley) July 8, 2018
They were bugs on a windshield.
The march for LGBTQ+ equality is UNSTOPPABLE 🌈
Pride in London has already faced criticism this year over the way it runs the capital's annual Pride festival. Stonewall, the UK's largest LGBT charity, decided not to attend this year's event because of "concerns about the lack of diversity and inclusion".
Meanwhile, LGBT+ rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has accused the event of allowing corporate sponsors to dominate the parade ahead of human rights organisations. "Many of the companies have degayed their floats. They don’t mention LGBT+, just Pride," he told The Independent.