London Pride originated from the Gay Liberation Front’s protest on 1 July 1972, inspired by the historic Stonewall riots in New York in 1969. The Stonewall riots “launched a queer rights movement which echoed throughout the world”. Three years later, the UK’s first official Pride march took place in London, with 2,000 people marching from Hyde Park to Trafalgar Square in protest against anti-gay violence and hostility in the UK.
Some of the original protestors, who risked arrest and their jobs to protest for their rights attended London Pride on Saturday 2 July, reinforcing the reality that for LGBTQI+ rights still need to be fought. While Pride sometimes attracts criticism for becoming commercialised, it is still often seen more as a parade of celebration.
An attack on LGBTQI+ and women’s rights
Over in the US, the Supreme Court recently overturned Roe v Wade, which established women’s rights while balancing the rights of the unborn child. Following comments from some members of the Supreme Court, it was clear that gay rights are also on the agenda. It was also clear that some of the justices were influenced by extremism, whether that be the far right, religious extremism or their own gripes with liberal thinking, rather than approaching the law in an objective and independent manner.
Three of the appointments to the Supreme Court were courtesy of Donald Trump, a man who was friends with Jeffrey Epstein, a high-profile sex offender and Ghislaine Maxwell, who has been sentenced to 20 years for her role in Epstein’s sex trafficking. Trump himself has been accused of numerous sexual misconduct incidents, which might explain the current attack on civil liberties, the environment and women. It’s clear that political appointments to the Supreme Court can have repercussions for decades.
The danger with the USA removing established rights is that the UK may be influenced by it. Both the UK and USA have often been seen as setting a standard where human rights are concerned, therefore removal of them is likely to influence other countries when considering basic human rights. I fear the LGBTQI+ community, women and minorities will once again become scapegoats for people who need to address their own internal issues, rather than take out their misplaced fear and anger on innocent people who just want one thing: equality.
Homosexuality remains illegal in 71 countries and gay marriage is legal only in 24 countries worldwide. In contrast, child marriage is permitted in over 100 countries. If a child becomes pregnant as a result of rape or abuse in the USA, they now shall have restricted or non-existent abortion rights. The idea, therefore, that restriction gay rights is to protect children is ridiculous; the laws, made predominantly by men, are there to control and restrict people, and are not about what is right.
The Gay Liberation Front movement, which started Pride, promoted economic, social, environment and racial equality, and “was born out of the women’s liberation, the Black power and the trans liberation movements”.
When one group’s rights are threatened, it is likely another group’s rights will also be threatened. To protect established rights and to move towards equality, it might therefore be time for the LGBTQI+ community, women and minorities to group together and support each other in their protests. Perhaps also support other protesting groups, such as Extinction Rebellion and the unions, as gay and lesbian activists did for Welsh miners in the strikes of the 1980s, during Thatcher’s Conservative government.
It is about time that we live and let live, and ensure that, rather than people needing to protest for their rights to be recognised and respected, the next Pride is a celebration of equality.