The national LGBT disabled people’s organisation is set to pull out of London’s annual gay rights parade this weekend, because they say organisers have failed to make vital access arrangements.
Regard produced a report after last year’s Pride London event, describing access as “difficult and dangerous” – which organisers have denied – with many arrangements agreed in advance not put into place on the day.
This year, despite repeated complaints and questions directed at the organisers by Regard members, detailed information about accessible transport only appeared on the Pride website this week, just hours after questions were asked by Disability News Service and only five days before the event was due to take place.
Regard says organisers have also failed to arrange any reserved accessible parking.
Regard is now compiling a file on the continuing access problems at Pride London stretching back at least ten years, to present to the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
One Regard member said she was one of “no doubt many disabled lesbians who have given up on the idea of travelling to London to take part in Pride”.
She said she and her partner “just cannot risk turning up and not being able to get the support that we might need”, and had emailed organisers for information several weeks ago but received no reply.
Dr Ju Gosling, co-chair of Regard, said: “I know how miserable I felt when I was really ill in July 2000, and found for the first time since coming out that Pride wouldn’t be accessible to me.
“I really wanted to be at Pride, to show that I couldn’t be made to feel ashamed of being either gay or disabled, however much I was punished for it. But instead I sat at home in tears.
“It makes me very sad that, ten years on, nothing has really changed despite many years of hard work by LGBT disabled people.
“And it makes me angry that disabled people are still having to fight for equality at so many levels within the community.”
No-one from Pride London, or the office of the Mayor, one of the event’s main sponsors, or Westminster council, which licenses the event, was available to comment.
1 July 2010