It was announced that UKIP is banned from marching in London Pride. The ban is, in part, a response to an online petition from LGBT activists but UKIP said it was “a sad day for diversity and freedom”.
But, indeed, prejudice is still prejudice and it seems intolerant to ban anyone from marching, (or as the organisers of the march have put it, to rescind their invitation to UKIP), but it is an understandable response to a party that has not only vigorously opposed same-sex marriage, but continues to do so, advocating, for example, a review of the new marriage laws in its “Christian Manifesto” to give legal protection to religious people who oppose same-sex marriage. The party’s high command is littered with those who have expressed contempt for the gay cause.
In addition, a number of UKIPPers have fallen foul for promoting the LGBT cause. Olly Neville, for example, former UKIP Youth Chairman, was vilified for supporting same-sex marriage.
A greater number of UKKIPers, though, have expressed openly homophobic views. (Jonathon Arnott, UKIP General Secretary cautioned against discussing gay issues online because someone might “screenshoot comments and send them to a newspaper” Someone did exactly that to Dr Julia Gasper!)
However it is viewed, UKIP’s record appears undermining equality.
Last year, the “Christian soldiers of UKIP” called the Manchester Pride “an annual parade of Depravity” and “a display of wickedness”; one of the party donors Demitri Marchessin, claimed there could be no fidelity in gay relationships. “That’s the way it is”. The high-ranking UKIP MEP Roger Helmer is on record saying that homosexuality “is not a valid lifestyle worthy of equal respect”. He has called Homosexuality “abnormal and undesirable.” He admits that things can go on behind closed doors but that “#Society is entitled to demand that those doors remain closed.” Much of this was said in the past, and Helmer claimed to have been misquoted, but still went on to say it was still ok for people to regard Homosexuality as “distasteful if not viscerally repugnant”. This is a man who advocates aversion therapy on the NHS and equates homosexuality with incest, a threat to marriage. I should have thought that a sleazy massage parlour “driving men wild since 1999” was a greater threat to marriage than gay equality- and Helmer’s 2014 visit to the self-same massage parlour ended his own 27 year relationship: he does not sound like the person who should be lecturing on either fidelity or morals, and certainly does not sound like a man who would want to march or be represented in any Gay Pride parade.
There is, however, a case for promoting awareness. Recently, the Yorkshire regional organiser said that he did not know what LGBT stood for. This man, surely would welcome the chance to march.
What is perhaps most unfortunate is that UKIP’s only ranking gay politician is also tarred with racist abuse. David Coburn, was caught comparing the Scottish Minister for Europe to a convicted terrorist, and then passing this off as joke. But Coburn’s would still be an odd LGBT supporter as he is also on record opposing gay marriage. The organisers of London Pride made oblique reference to Coburn in their statement:
"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." #Festivities