If you follow me on Twitter or keep abreast of my blog posts, and I appreciate how finite a number of people that is, you will know that there aren’t many issues I write about without a strong conviction one way or the other, but UKIP’s banning from marching in the London LGBT+ Pride parade next month really does have my loyalties divided. Again, if you are familiar with me, and yes, I’m aware how increasingly boastful and haughty I’m sounding, you’ll know that I’m gay and I’m a Liberal. UKIP announced their plans to participate in their inaugural pride event and were subsequently overrun with backlash from outraged members of the LGBT+ community. As a gay man planning to attend London Pride this year, which is coincidentally my first Pride event too, I can ardently declare I don’t want to share the occasion with the UK Independence Party. I have long been a vocal critic of UKIP and virtually everything they stand for, and I certainly share no affinity with them on LGBT+ rights or any social policy at all.
But do I think they should be banned from London Pride? No, I don’t and this is where I put my Liberal hat on. Like I have already said, I abhor UKIP, I often find it difficult to express my disdain for the party and its ideology in operative terms but I also acknowledge that there is, as unfortunate as it may be, a big demand for them currently – and that too has stretched in to the LGBT+ community. I believe in free speech and freedom to voice one’s political views, I don’t think the LGBT+ wing of UKIP is likely to promote hate speech at Pride, although I appreciate their appearance would have antagonised many, including myself. But we must remember there’s a lovely little thing that follows the LGBT acronym and that’s a tiny ‘+’. That ‘+’ in my mind is wonderful; it stands for the inclusion of everyone, even those who don’t identify as LGBT. This is the sort of accepting, all-encompassing attitude that makes Pride events across the globe so efficacious. So not only is it illiberal to restrain UKIP with an outright injunction, it’s also against the spirit of Pride events. Additionally, it does beg the question where do we draw the line? I could contend that the Tories and Labour aren’t exactly friends of the LGBT+ community either but that’s a conversation for another time.
I’m very conscious that I seem to be endorsing the union of the LGBT+ community and UKIP – but I’m not. I’m stood defiantly alongside the noisy cross-section of Pride patrons who simply cannot understand how an LGBT+ person can marry their sexuality with Farage’s punitive, prejudiced, separatist politics – pun definitely intended. This is a party that opposed same-sex marriage because it didn’t ‘animate the daily discourse’ of heterosexuals, contains party members who have among other things blamed homosexuality for mass flooding, intimated that gay men and women are more likely to be paedophiles, called those who support same-sex marriage ‘nazis’ and is a party that contains an LGBT+ wing that referred to those who clash with their inclusion in the Pride parade as the ‘gay mafia’, which is homophobic rhetoric in my book.
I don’t think we should tell UKIP they can’t take part. I think those LGBT+ people who take the unthinkable choice to back UKIP should attend Pride in London 2015 but do so independently. Whilst, I don’t want to formally bar their party politics from the event I do implore them to see sense. Due to the nature of UKIP’s policies for LGBT+ people, or complete lack of if we’re talking about the 2015 manifesto, their appearance is only going to create a feeling of division and antagonism and that is simply not an atmosphere we need to stoke at Pride. So here is where I come out, another intended pun, UKIP should not be at any LGBT+ Pride event, not by force but because LGBT+ people shouldn’t subscribe to their views in the first place, and if they do so, they should have the good grace to not provoke those who are insulted by the party’s derisory deficiency of support for our community.