The UK Independence Party have been banned from this year’s London Gay Pride Parade amid concerns for the safety of participants.
Organisers of the London event, designed to unite people in support of the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) community, made the decision so as to ensure the event goes safely and in the right spirit.
In the run-up to the LGBT event there was a widely supported petition to ban the controversial political party from taking part.
Organisers said they had to “wrestle with a difficult issue” when deciding whether to allow a group from the political party to enter the parade.
In an official statement, London Pride said:
For this year we have reached the decision that UKIP’s application to join the Pride in London Parade, 27th June 2015, 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.
More than 2,000 people called for UKIP to be barred from Pride after the party was set to be included for the first time.
Activists complained the party vowed to drop equality rights in its manifesto and Nigel Farage opposed gay marriage.
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 be very sorry this decision has been made, equally we are sorry 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.
London Pride will take place on June 27 without UKIP’s involvement, although organisers have said they will review the issue of exclusivity before the 2016 event.