Fifty years ago, the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) had its very first meeting, held at the London School of Economics. The group stemmed from the Stonewall Riots of 1969, and would go on to organise historic protests of its own, leading the charge of the modern LGBTQ+ movement in the UK. In 1971, the GLF released its manifesto – written at a time when homosexuality was illegal in Scotland and Northern Ireland. It stated: ‘We must root out the idea that homosexuality is bad, sick or immoral, and develop a gay pride.’
Pride in London was due to take place this weekend, and while the main event has been cancelled, some original members of the Gay Liberation Front will be holding a parade in honour of the group’s fiftieth anniversary. On Saturday June 27, former GLF organisers – many now in their seventies – will walk the official Pride in London parade route down Regent Street, Piccadilly Circus, Haymarket to Trafalgar Square, where there will be speeches about the GLF. The march is symbolic, in that it is not open to the wider LGBTQ+ community, only GLF veterans.
The activists are marching with a call to ‘put politics back into Pride’ and have five key demands:
End UK detention and deportation of LGBT+ asylum seekers
Let people define their own gender, not doctors or the state
Mandatory LGBT+ education in every school
Religion! Hands off women’s and LGBT+ bodies
Solidarity with Black Lives Matter and LGBT+ people of colour worldwide
Peter Tatchell, a former GLF member and one of the organisers of the first London Pride march in 1972 said ‘GLF did not seek equal rights within a flawed, unjust status quo. It campaigned for the transformation of society to end straight supremacism and stood in solidarity with all other oppressed people. A similar agenda of radical social change is needed now, as the UK faces the threats of Covid-19, economic meltdown, institutional racism, climate destruction and the demonisation of trans people. We support Black Lives Matter and the just demands of black communities and black LGBT+ people, like we did in the early 1970s.’
The fiftieth anniversary GLF march will take place on Sat Jun 27, 1pm outside the BBC in Portland Place. Find out more here.
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