The organizers of London’s Pride march have apologized after allowing a group of anti-transgender lesbian activists to lead Saturday’s parade.
Eight members of activist group Get the L Out, which believes that transgender women are “coercing lesbians to have sex with men,” stormed the start of the parade route, blocking progress for ten minutes.
The women held banners saying “lesbian = female homosexual” and “Transactivism erases lesbians.” One of the activists reportedly shouted out: “A man who says he’s a lesbian is a rapist.”
Pride organizers eventually allowed the group to lead the parade, despite not being officially registered, due to safety concerns over the heatwave affecting the city, according to a spokesperson from Pride in London.
“Every year, Pride is attended by hundreds of thousands of people who demonstrate that Pride still matters,” they said. “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.”
They added: “We do not condone their approach and message and hope the actions of a very small number of people does not overshadow the messages of the 30,000 people marching today.”
Pride in London later released a statement saying they found the group’s behavior “shocking and disgusting.”
“The protest group showed a level of bigotry, ignorance and hate that is unacceptable,” the statement read. “We reject what this group stands for. They do not share our values, which are about inclusion and respect and support for the most marginalised parts of our community.”
They added: “We are proud of our trans volunteers, proud of the trans groups that are in our parade, proud of our trans speakers at events and proud of the trans people who take part in our campaigns and proud of those who cheered even louder for them yesterday.”
According to GayTimes, a spokesperson from Get The L Out said that their protest was for lesbians who feel “intimidated, threatened and silenced by the GBT community.”
“The GBT community today, by supporting the rights of males who “identify as lesbians” (also called “transwomen”) over the rights of lesbians to choose their sexual partners (on the basis of their sex, not how they “identify”) is in fact enforcing heterosexuality on lesbians,” they said. “This is a misogynistic and anti-lesbian manifestation of the rape culture we live in.”
Many LGBTQ rights organizations shared their anger over the group being allowed to march, including Chair of LGBT+ Lib Dems Jennie Rigg, who told The Independent that she was “appalled that transphobic protestors were allowed to lead the march.”
She added: “This is a betrayal of the thousands marching. The Pride organisers should resign and offer a full apology.”
A recent U.K. survey found that a majority of LGBTQ people are less happy than their straight, cisgender peers, with most fearing negative reactions from others if they were to hold hands with a same-sex partner or reveal their gender identity. These results have led the U.K. government to allocate £4.5 million ($6 million) to make the country more inclusive to LGBTQ people, in addition to a pledge to ban harmful conversion therapy on LGBTQ people.
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