London Mayor Boris Johnson
A leading LGBT rights campaigner has criticised London Mayor Boris Johnson for failing to take action to help the city’s ailing World Pride celebrations.
“The World Pride organisers have made mistakes and must share some of the blame for the current shambles. However, they are not the sole villains,” said Peter Tatchell, who helped organise Britain’s first Gay Pride parade 40 years ago in London.
“The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, could have rescued Pride but has apparently chosen to not do so,” he claimed.
Pride London organisers have faced financial woes which have led to a number of events being cancelled or scaled back, including dropping floats and vehicles from Saturday’s parade.
According to Tatchell and sources within City Hall and the Greater London Authority (GLA), many of the problems could have been averted if London had been more supportive.
Tatchell said that he has been told that the costs of using city venues had doubled since last year and that the city had demanded up-front payment from Pride London organisers.
Although organisers believe that they will have the cash to pay all bills after the event the city has apparently refused to wait until then for its money.
“The GLA appears to be imposing on Pride and the LGBT community charges that many people find extortionate and exploitative. It seems to be more about making money than serving Londoners,” said Tatchell.
There are also reports that GLA has forced Pride London to use certain suppliers who are more expensive than other suppliers that organisers have sourced.
Sources further claim that a substantial last minute sponsorship to rescue World Pride was rejected by the city because it was “too late”.
“This ‘too late’ claim is disputed, with some people suggesting that there was still sufficient time last week to produce a viable rescue package, if the mayor’s team had the will to do so,” said Tatchell.
He warned of chaos in Soho following Saturday’s street procession. The city reportedly forced organisers to cancel official street parties in the area, limiting celebrations to inside venues. There are concerns that there will no capacity or preparations for the tens of thousands of people expected to flood Soho.
“Westminster council has not explained how up to 250,000 people are expected to cram into 20 Soho gay venues with a maximum capacity of 5,000 people,” noted Tatchell.
He also accused the city of gagging Pride London organisers by forcing all media communication to first be approved by officials and of trying to block him from speaking at Pride events because he has spoken out against the city.
“The mayor has a duty to help save Pride,” insisted Tatchell, adding “If the event flops it will be a huge embarrassment to London, just three weeks before the Olympics.”
He urged the mayor, police and Westminster council to re-open negotiations with Pride organisers and other LGBT stakeholders.
“For the sake of the many thousands of people expected to participate, and to avoid widespread disruption across central London, the city authorities have a public duty to make changes to ensure a happy, successful Pride,” said Tatchell.