Every member of Pride in London’s community advisory board has resigned citing an alleged culture of bullying and a “hostile environment” for people of colour volunteers.
The resignation of the board on Thursday follows several directors also resigning, including Pride in London’s most senior black volunteer, deepening a race crisis within the organisation behind the UK’s largest Pride march.
The resignation letter calls for new leadership to take the organisation forward and for an independent investigation by the mayor’s office into allegations of marginalisation and bullying.
The community advisory board (CAB), made up of 10 individuals, was established in 2012 to advise the directors on questions of inclusivity and help the body meet its commitment to openness and transparency.
The resignation letter sent to the board, seen by the Guardian, criticises the organisation for failing to set up an anonymous formal complaints procedure “outside the direct influence of directors” to report bullying or raise concerns, which they claim affects the most vulnerable and marginalised volunteers.
“Contributing to this hostile environment, is the increasing preoccupation at Pride in London with managing the public relations concerns of its leadership, at the cost of supporting its Black and POC volunteers or community members,” the resignation letter says.
It follows the resignation of Rhammel Afflick, a former director of communications and one of the most senior Black volunteers at Pride.
The CAB has previously criticised Pride in London for not being inclusive enough, with Stonewall pulling out of the parade in 2018 because of the event’s perceived lack of diversity.
The mass resignation follows Pride in London’s decision to allow the Metropolitan police to apply to take part in the procession at the annual parade, following calls to ban them at the height of last year’s Black Lives Matter protests. During deliberations, the CAB recommended in a report that the police not be allowed to march as a group in the parade.
The CAB accused Pride in London of reneging on its support for Black Lives Matter and its commitment to “listen to, advocate for and platform Black LGBT+ people”.
“We are not confident that Pride in London can act on behalf of Black and POC communities on the issue of policing with any credence, given the alarming accounts of marginalisation and bullying from Black and POC volunteers,” the resignation letter says.
It adds: “It is our view that Pride in London has acted less as custodians of a sacred event that champions the rights of all in our community, and more as a personal project of a privileged few. At this point, it is clear that there is no desire from Pride in London to take onboard recommendations by the CAB or the wider community.”
Of LGBTQ+ people of colour who wanted to volunteer for Pride in London, the CAB said: “Look elsewhere.”
Ozzy Amir, the former chair and BAME representative of the CAB, 말했다: “To say it has been exhausting, would be an understatement. We’ve been trying for years to constructively work with Pride to bring about positive change for our communities, but at some point, you have to say: enough is enough. It’s very demoralising when senior leaders disregard community views and advice because it isn’t in line with their personal views.
“We were going into meetings, aware we weren’t getting the full picture on key issues, such as the existence of serious complaints, or learning key decisions which required CAB consultation, had already been made. It’s clear there is little accountability, and more stage management when it comes to the community advisory board.”
그는 덧붙였다: “The rot runs deep and it’s past time for this board of directors to go.”
A spokesperson for the mayor of London, 사 디크 칸, 말했다: “The mayor is committed to tackling racism and inequality in all its forms, and takes any allegations of this nature extremely seriously.”
A spokesperson for Pride in London said: “We take concerns around bullying very seriously and have a number of processes in place for our volunteers to be able to lodge formal complaints, including anonymously, which are then followed up on and investigated.
“We acknowledge that we need to rebuild trust with Black communities and people of colour, and to that end we are conducting a full review of our processes and procedures at board level in order to bring about tangible and meaningful change. We will share more on these decisions within the next week.”