The Metropolitan police has said officers will not march in uniform at Pride in London, following concerns over “institutionalised homophobia” within the force.
Pride in London takes place this weekend, celebrating 50 years of Pride in the UK, and it looks like we now have some clarity over uniformed officers marching it the Capital’s festivities.
On Thursday (June 30), Pride in London organisers said police and other forces should no longer march in uniform, but are free to take part in plain clothes.
Speaking to The Guardian, organisers said: “We work hard to strike a balance between the very real and legitimate concerns from members of our community, and being as welcoming as we can.
“We agree that the police uniform undermines that balance, and as such we are aligned that it should not feature in our parade.”
Scotland Yard confirmed on Friday (July 1) that officers who wish to join the celebrations should do so in civilian clothes rather than uniform following hearing said legitimate concerns from activists.
Matt Jukes, assistant commissioner of the Met, said: “I understand the concerns people have about the Met taking part in London’s Pride march. Everyone who is going to be in the parade has asked to be part of Pride as a member of our LGBT+ staff network.”
“I know that we have to work hard, with and for many LGBT+ Londoners to win back their trust. Amongst my LGBT+ colleagues taking part in Pride are people who have their own experiences of exclusion and prejudice. Despite the challenges some have faced individually, they want to be part of building a Met that all of London can be proud of.”
LGBTQ+ campaigners called for organisers to ban uniformed police following coverage of Scotland Yard’s “homophobic” handling during the investigation into serial killer Stephen Port.
Port, who has come to be known as ‘The Grindr Killer’, was found guilty in 2016 of murdering four young men by poisoning and is currently serving a whole life sentence for his crimes.
Earlier this month, it was revealed the Metropolitan Police handling of the murders is to be re- investigated, after its own investigation found that the force failed to carry out basic checks, send evidence to be forensically examined, and failed to exercise professional curiosity while Port was embarking on his killing spree, resulting in unnecessary deaths.
The crimes were immortalised in BBC Drama Four Lives which doesn’t skirt around the topic of police failings.
LGBTQ+ activist Peter Tatchell said the case followed a string of recent revelations of homophobia, racism and misogyny in the police, saying that Pride in London organisers needed to take a firm stand on officers’ participation in the parade.
He said the Port case is indicative that “institutional homophobia is alive and kicking in the Metropolitan police”.
Speaking after the Scotland Yard announcement on Friday, Tatchell said: “This is the right decision given community concerns about police homophobia, racism and misogyny. I hope other Prides across the UK will follow suit and secure the agreement of the police to not march in uniform.”
Pride in London returns to the capital this weekend with more than 1.5m people expected to attend following its two-year COVID hiatus.
Saturday’s parade honours the UK’s first Pride March, then organised by members of the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) on July 1, 1972.
The parade, which will kick-off at Hyde Park Corner at midday, is set to show London’s ‘visibility, unity, and equality for LGBTQ+ people’.
More than 30,000 people and nearly 600 community groups will march in the parade with far more expected to line the streets and attend events.
On Saturday we rise, unite, remember, dance, slay and MARCH for #AllOurPride
See how far we’ve come in the last 50 years and how far we must go, together in our film.
— Pride in London (@PrideInLondon) June 29, 2022