Oxford student groups have slammed the decision to allow “transphobic” activists to march at the head of this year’s London Pride Parade.
Oxford SU, Oxford University LGBTQ+ Society, the Oxford SU LGBTQ+ Campaign and the Oxford SU Women’s Campaign led condemnation with a joint statement on Monday. Further criticism has since been levied by students on social media against Pride’s organisers.
Activists criticised the fact permission was given for “a hate group of eight women…bearing transphobic and trans-mysoginistic signs,” calling for “cisgender lesbians to form a separatist movement,” to “lead” the parade.
In their statement, Oxford SU and Oxford University LGBTQ+ Society said such events suggested that Pride in London “condoned a hostile, trans-exclusionary atmosphere at an event where trans people should be able to celebrate their identities in safety.”
Organisers claimed that the group was permitted to march the front due to “safety” concerns pertaining to hot weather, but that they did not agree with the group’s message. They claimed that “sadly, we could not forcibly remove the group” but did “move them to an area far in front of the official parade…to separate them.”
However, Oxford campaigners argue that this is part of a wider pattern of behaviour at the London Pride event in recent years. Pride in London, they claim, has engaged in “historical bi-erasure” as well as “ace/aro-erasure” (asexual and aromantic), and suffers from “recurrent transphobia.” This highlights the enduring “cis privilege” within the Pride movement.
Criticising organisers’ justifications, the statement added: “A hate group should under no circumstances have been permitted to march in the parade.”
According to the Oxford campaigns, the “hate group of eight women” also distributed “leaflets opposing trans-friendly reforms to the Gender Recognition Act” and called for a ban on trans-women from women-only spaces.
The same group also reportedly attacked what it claims is a tendency by “transactivism [to] erase lesbians.” One member argued that “men are saying they are trans, they are lesbians and they pressure lesbians to have sex with them.”
In a statement to Cherwell, Oxford University LGBTQ+ Society said: “The OU LGBTQ+ Society condemns the participation of a transphobic and trans-misogynistic hate group in the parade of London Pride, and the failure of the organisers to prevent their participation.
“We are distressed to see that transphobia is still so prevalent within the LGBTQ+ community, with it not only permitted at London Pride, but also given a place at the forefront of the parade.
“For members of Oxford’s trans community to attend London Pride, some for the first time, and be greeted with signs and shouts that they’re a threat to the community and that their identities should not be respected or even tolerated, was deeply upsetting.
“The welfare of trans members of our society is of paramount importance to us and we send our solidarity to anyone who was affected.
“We must not seek to replace our history with latent transphobia under the guise of free speech, but to foreground the trans activists responsible for this important day.”
Such condemnation comes at a time when London Pride has already been roundly criticised by LGBTQ+ activists. Peter Tatchell has argued that limits placed on the number of attendees were tantamount to “discrimination”.
Tatchell and others have also criticised the Parade for being too dominated by corporate sponsors, rather than its radical activist roots.
Pride in London did not respond to Cherwell’s request for comment.