Long-time LGBT activist Peter Tatchell has hit out at restrictions on numbers of people allowed to participate in the annual London Pride march, which took place on Saturday 7 July.
Tatchell – who has been involved with Pride since the first official event was held in 1972 – said that 50,000 wanted to take part, but licensing restrictions and the cost of hiring stewards meant that numbers were limited to 30,000. Up to 100,000 paraded in the 1990s, Tatchell said, adding that the iconic event was being “strangled by regulations, bureaucracy, red tape and the unreasonable dictates of the city authorities”.
The complaint is a familiar one to lovers of Carnival in London, who have been vocal about ever more restrictive licensing conditions and controls imposed by the Metropolitan Police and the two councils involved in Notting Hill Carnival, Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea.
In another broadside that will sound familiar to many of the capital’s carnivalists, Tatchell said that Pride has moved away from its community roots and has become dominated by corporate floats. Quoted in The Guardian, he said: “It’s time to put liberation back at the heart of Pride; to reclaim it as a political march with a party atmosphere. No limits on numbers and no motorised floats. This would dramatically cut costs and bureaucracy, and return Pride to its roots.”
In the LGBT community, unease about commercialisation and restrictions on freedom of expression are also evident in New York. At the city’s Pride march last month, non-registered supporters joined the route after barricades were removed by activists from the Reclaim Pride Coalition (RPC).
In its opposition to corporatism and excessive control, RPC appears to have broadly similar motivations and aims to Notting Hill’s Reclaim Our Carnival.