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UK Black Pride removes Home Office from event

BLACK PRIDE: Organisers behind the annual festival have been criticised for giving stall space to the Home Office

UK BLACK Pride has apologised for any alarm caused as it announced the Home Office will no longer be represented at its event on Sunday.

The government department and the National Crime Agency (NCA) had been due to have stalls at Black Pride in Haggerston Park this weekend but organisers today revealed they have taken the decision to rescind access to both parties.

The Metropolitan Police LGBT+ Network will still be present at the event.

In a statement, UK Black Pride said that the official presence of the Home Office representatives had been approved under the premise that the stall would be manned by Spectrum, the government department’s internal LGBTQ network.

“We feel a deep commitment to LGBTQ people of colour, wherever they work, and felt compelled to offer the network an opportunity to engage with the UK Black Pride community about the work they may be undertaking internally to address the Home Office's discrimination against the communities we represent,” UK Black Pride said.

It added: “We thought it would also be an opportunity for our community to respond directly to the NCA about the lack of representative data on crimes against people of colour in this country and to make clear the need for more robust interventions against hate crimes experienced by LGBTQ people of colour. We understand this is not the time nor place for this conversation.”

The decision to give official access to the Home Office and the NCA had attracted criticism and caused confusion.

The refusal rate for asylum seekers who submitted applications where sexual orientation was raised as part of the basis for their claim rose from 61 per cent in 2015 to 78 per cent in 2017, according to figures reported by The Independent.

Recent high profile cases such as that of gay rugby player Kenneth Macharia have also furthered damaged the Home Office's reputation among LGBT people of colour.

One commenter tweeted: “Really disappointed to see that @ukblackpride have given a stall to @ukhomeoffice given the dept's continued persecution, deportation and complicity in violence against LGBTQ migrants here + abroad, not to mention the ongoing execution of injustice under the hostile environment.”

NUS national executive councillor Lola Olufemi said: “So disappointing that @ukblackpride have given a stall to the Home Office, enablers of the violent, dehumanising & hostile policy that deports queer black and brown asylum seekers to their death or forces on them the most stringent and bizarre thresholds to ‘prove’ queerness.”

UK Black Pride apologised to LGBTQ people of colour for “any alarm” caused by what it described as an “error in judgement”.

UK Black Pride referred to social media reactions to the inclusion of the Home Office and the NCA as contributing factors to their decision to remove them from the event, fuelling the idea that

Once the decision was reversed, Olufemi both welcomed the development and expressed concern that it had happened in the first place.

“Whilst this is welcome news, it’s deeply worrying that this would have just slipped under the radar because of clever marketing? [Black Pride] is meaningless if it’s complicit in betraying the most marginalised queer lives,” she tweeted.

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