Pride events across the country every year feature organisations, groups and individuals, but what about the army?
Military personal and representatives of arms and munitions companies have become increasingly involved in prides across Europe and the US. Activists have argued the military and weapons betray the philosophy of pride as peaceful protest and that its inappropriate to use the event to promote war and its actors. They have also argued that it is an attempt at ‘pink washing’ – this is when a company or organisation tries to improve its public image by associating itself with LGBTQ+ support, especially when these values are not reflected in the company or organisations operations or actions.
Continuing in the spirit of peaceful protests, activists have taken action against the inclusion of these groups. No Pride in War is a coalition of LGBTQ+ and anti-war activists who were formed in response to the involvement of military presence and a flyover by the Red Arrows at London Pride in 2016. Arms manufacturer, BAE systems, was also included in the event. A peaceful vigil was held and a poster was designed which was put up along the route of the march and at Glastonbury Festival.
In York, the Peace Pledge Union supported a peaceful demonstration outside an army recruitment stall included as part of the Pride event. In April 2019, a petition was launched to urge the organisers of Surrey Pride to drop BAE systems too, stating:
“BAE Systems is happy to present a good face by showcasing employee diversity and sponsoring Pride events, it clearly does not regard women and LGBTQ+ people as important in countries it does business with, some with institutionalised discrimination and violence against them.”
“I am shocked that my local Pride event has been turned into a military PR opportunity for pink washing the armed forces, rather than the celebration of LGBTQ+ liberation that it should be”
— Rachel Melly
Police involvement at Pride is also a controversial issue. The origins of the Pride movement lie within countering the violence and oppression conducted by the police against the LGBTQ+ community, exemplified by the Stonewall raid in 1969.
Today, police presence is heavily present at Pride events to ‘police’ and keep such events ‘peaceful’, which in itself is criticised. But in 2018, there were protests when Glasgow Pride featured the police marching band as the parade’s frontrunner. Many within the LGBTQ+ community feel the police represent the very thing Pride is standing up against, and they therefore should not be allowed to participate and make members of the community feel unsafe.
Some go further and argue the police, around the world, further injustice committed against LGBTQ+ people, by profiling people of colour and misgendering victims of hate crime.
This is an international issue, not just in the UK or USA. Many countries exist that uphold anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. In these countries, such as Russia and Turkey, the police are used to forcibly stop protests of pride parades.