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Labour At Pridefest: Standing By The LGBTQI+ Community In Croydon

The Labour Party has a grand tradition of fighting for marginalised communities – especially the LGBTQI+ community. Labour decriminalised homosexuality in 1967, repealed Section 28 in 2003, and passed the Civil Partnerships Act and the Adoption and Children Act in 2004. In short, Labour has always stood shoulder to shoulder with LGBTQI+ people.

That is why it was such an immense privilege, on the 50th anniversary of Britain’s first pride parade, to show our support for the community at Croydon PrideFest in July. With more than two dozen volunteers throughout the day, both in the parade through North End to Wandle Park and at our festival stall, Labour made known its unwavering support for the LGBTQI+ community.

Labour volunteers and activists had the honour of marching in the parade through North End to Wandle Park.

There was a notable absence too – the Tories hadn’t even bothered to make the effort and set up a stall!

By contrast, the Labour Party, revelling in the beautiful weather and the incredible atmosphere, stood by its principles and saw to it that one of Croydon’s largest communities could feel Labour’s support.

Steve Reed, the Labour MP for Croydon North, and Sarah Jones, the Labour MP for Croydon Central, both came along to show their support. They helped with the running of the stall and took time to engage with local LGBTQI+ people at the festival. There were many positive and friendly conversations surrounding the safety of LGBTQI+ people and their rights. Croydon’s brilliant Labour MPs committed themselves to always upholding the community’s human rights and fighting against bigotry.

Steve Reed MP, Croydon’s first LGBTQI+ MP, with a dozen Labour activists and councillors at Croydon PrideFest.

We created a board of questions for people to engage with, ranging from how the Conservative government were handling the cost-of-living crisis to whether the Tories have the best interests of the LGBTQI+ community at heart. In particular, the conversations we had with people surrounding the question of whether the Conservatives should ban the practice of conversion therapy for transgender people – one of many broken pledges the Tories have made over the last twelve years and haven’t followed through on – showed that Croydon wholly condemns the practice and the Tories’ inaction on the issue.

We saw plenty of engagement with our question board – so much so that we had to wipe the board clean halfway through the day because the demand was so high!

Organised by councillors Brigitte Graham of Woodside, Leila Ben-Hassel of Norbury and Pollards Hill, and Ellily Ponnuthurai of Waddon, as well as nearly 15 other volunteers and activists, Labour’s stall at Croydon PrideFest this year was a roaring success. With merchandise such as mugs, t-shirts, and tote bags on offer (neatly emblazoned with the words “never kissed a Tory”) and an extremely popular tombola, as well as freebies such as tattoos, novelty pride sunglasses and, of course, a whole range of sweet treats like cupcakes and lollies, we saw hundreds of people from across Croydon come and have a chat and celebrate the day.

Crucially, we got to hear from those in the LGBTQI+ community themselves about the changes they want to see in Croydon. Overwhelmingly, they wanted a Council and a mayor that stood up for LGBTQI+ people in the borough. Such ideas such as the establishment of a “gay quarter”, better provision of services (particularly mental and sexual health), and the greater visibility of gay people in local government were brought up during entirely positive and unendingly interesting conversations with Croydon’s wonderful LGBTQI+ community.

Next year, Croydon will be the London Borough of Culture, a distinction which will bring thousands from across the city to our delightful town. PrideFest will undoubtedly play its part in those celebrations as a central fixture to the calendar. Labour will once again be attending PrideFest next year, and indeed every year, to show our support of the LGBTQI+ community and make the community’s voice heard at a local and national level.

As a fixture of Croydon’s summer, PrideFest returned in July for the first time since the pandemic began in 2020 to much fanfare and celebration, and Labour recognises the importance of this event to the fabric of our vibrant and diverse borough. The Labour Party understands the importance of upholding LGBTQI+ rights both locally and nationally and will always be committed to the cause of liberation and freedom for the community.

With thanks to LGBT+ Labour, Steve Reed MP and Sarah Jones MP, the dozens of volunteers throughout the day, the near-15 organisers and volunteers who made the event possible, Croydon PrideFest for allowing us to run a stall, and the wonderful LGBTQI+ community of Croydon.

See you next year!

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