MangakaMaiden Photography via Flickr

An open letter from 14 leading members of the LGBTQ+ community demanding Pride in London reform has been sent to the Mayor of London.

The letter, sent on 18 October, includes nine demands for change with the goal of a successful 50th anniversary Pride event being delivered in 2022.

Peter Tatchell, an LGBTQ+ rights activist and director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation, is one of the letter’s signatories who helped organise the UK’s first Pride march in 1972 and has marched in every Pride London parade since that year.

He said: “We are urging the Mayor to take action, given that Pride in London is no longer abiding by its contract and has lost the trust and confidence of much of the LGBTIQ community. I hope the Mayor will meet us.

“Our nine demands are a bid to fix the problems with Pride in London. They are a compilation of concerns expressed by a wide cross section of the LGBTIQ community.

“We do not claim to have all the answers. We see this letter as a catalyst for change. I hope it will generate a much-needed debate within our community about who runs Pride, how it is run and Pride’s future character and direction. We welcome others contributing ideas.

“The successful ‘Reclaim Pride’ march on 24 July shows there is a yearning for change, in particular for a truly inclusive community-based Pride and a Pride that is both a celebration and a protest for LGBTIQ human rights.”

The letter’s nine demands range from “an inquiry into the allegations of racism and bullying” to scrapping the wristband requirement.

Its signatories include current and former organisers of Pride in London and its Community Advisory Board.

“We the undersigned believe that the Mayor of London’s office should act now to demand the removal of the current board of directors of London LGBTIQ Community Pride CIC (Pride in London or PiL) and their replacement by a new team representative of, and accountable to, the whole LGBTIQ community,” the letter reads.

“It is also vital that Pride in London reverts to its original core purposes: the celebration of LGBTIQ life and culture, the promotion LGBTIQ human rights and the inclusion of all sections of the LGBTIQ community.

It continues: “While we acknowledge, appreciate and praise the many hours of effort put in by the Pride in London organisers and volunteers, the leadership of the organisation is no longer representative of the LGBTIQ community it claims to serve. It is self-appointed, non-transparent and lacking oversight and accountability.”

The authors of the letter ask Khan to act now to ensure reform can be delivered in time for the 2022 parade.

In response to the letter, a spokesperson for the Mayor of London told GAY TIMES: “London will always be a beacon of inclusiveness, acceptance and diversity.

“The views and contribution of our city’s vibrant and diverse LGBTQ+ community are vital to shaping successful Pride in London events.

“As we look ahead to welcoming the 50th anniversary celebration of Pride in London next year, we are fully committed to supporting the community to deliver a safe and inclusive event.”

London Pride was cancelled in both 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning next year’s celebrations would be the first since 2019 if they go ahead as planned.

It was scheduled to take place on 11 September, with thousands expected to watch the parade through the centre of the capital.

Pride in London traditionally takes place at the end of June or early July, but this year’s event was pushed back to September with the hope that the vaccine rollout would mean it would be safe for large crowds to come together.

However, with mere weeks to go Pride in London made the decision that, after reviewing the UK government’s guidelines, the large-scale event could not take place.

The open letter sent to the Mayor can be read by clicking here.