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Ukip banned from gay pride parade

Published 06/06/2015

Thousands take part in the 26th annual Gay Pride Festival parade, as they march through London
Thousands take part in the 26th annual Gay Pride Festival parade, as they march through London

Ukip have been banned from joining a gay pride parade designed to unite people in support of the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) community amid concerns for the safety of those taking part.

Organisers at the event in London, due to be held at the end of the month, said they had to "wrestle with a difficult issue" when deciding whether or not to allow a group from the right-wing political party to enter the parade.

But they said the decision was made to reject Ukip's application " in order to protect participants and ensure the event passes off safely and in the right spirit".

Organisers said the decision was not politically motivated against Ukip, who have attracted negative headlines due to some members' comments about same-sex marriage.

In a statement, a spokesman for the organisers said: "We aim to unite our community, not divide it, and our intention is to serve the whole of our community with an inclusive event, so to exclude any group is not a decision we take lightly.

"For this year we have reached the decision that Ukip's application to join the Pride in London Parade, on June 27, will be turned down.

"This decision has been made after careful consultation in order to protect participants and ensure the event passes off safely and in the right spirit, it has not been made on a political basis.

"We appreciate many in our community have strongly held views about Ukip, their policies and comments, but is undeniable that there are LGBT members of Ukip, including their MEP for Scotland, and it is important to remember that Pride in London aims to be an inclusive event.

"However, of paramount concern to us is the experience of all participants at Pride, most especially the position we would be putting our volunteer stewards in."

Ukip said the decision marked "a sad day for diversity and freedom".

Flo Lewis, the chair of LGBT in Ukip, said: "The board of London Pride 2015 have not decided to reject our application. Instead they have decided to rescind the invitation under threats from and complaints by other members of the LGBT community.

"We should, I think, be very sorry that this decision has been made, equally we are sorry that the organising committee and board of London Pride 2015 has been put under the sort of pressure it has over the past few days.

"All people, regardless of creed, colour or sexual orientation, can find a home in Ukip. It is a sad day for diversity and freedom when these people are prohibited from expressing their selves as part of the wider community."

In a mini-manifesto for Christians before last month's general election, Ukip said it would give legal protection in the workplace to religious people who oppose same-sex marriage because of their beliefs.

It said this would legally protect people who expressed a religious conscience in the workplace on the issue of same-sex marriage, and would apply to cases such as the bakery which declined an order for a cake bearing a pro-gay marriage slogan.

In 2012, serial election candidate Winston McKenzie was reported to have said it would not be "healthy" for children to be adopted by gay couples.

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