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LGBTQ+ groups 'opt out' of Pride in London over partners’ links to Israel’s occupation

LGSMigrants, Queers for Palestine and Imaan take issue with partner firms' ties to Israel
Central London on the day of the Pride parade on 1 July 2023 (AFP)
Central London on the day of the Pride parade on 1 July 2023 (AFP)

Several pro-Palestine LGBTQ+ organisations will not march at Pride in London’s parade on Saturday, citing concerns over ties between some event sponsors and Israel’s occupation, as well as connections to arms companies supporting it. 

In a series of joint Instagram posts, Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants (LGSMigrants) and Queers for Palestine accuse Cisco, Coca-Cola, Lidl, Tesco and Deutsche Bank of “pinkwashing”, publicly allying with LGBTQ+ causes to hide the darker elements of a business.   

Pride in London, which drew 1.5 million attendees in 2023, stated that it stands with those suffering in Gaza and assesses partners based on its ethical partnerships policy.

Some pro-Palestine LGBTQ+ organisations are planning their own alternative events such as “Muslim Pride” and “Decolonising Pride”.

LGSMigrants alleges that Cisco provides computing, cyber security and communication systems to the Israeli military. 

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Cisco Israel opened its first branch in Netanya in 1997 and now employs about 800 people across six development sites, according to the Jerusalem Post. In February this year, it announced that it was expanding its operations in southern Israel.

A report by the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre found that Cisco established technological hubs in occupied Palestine. 

'We can’t, in good conscience, march alongside corporations that enable and profit off of the genocide of our siblings in Palestine'

Imaan LGBTQI Muslim Support statement

Coca-Cola operates a factory in Atarot, an Israeli settlement, and has previously been recognised by the Israeli government for its "committed support" and its resistance to boycott calls. 

Lidl is operated by Schwarz Group and its owner, Dieter Schwarz, backs the investment fund Zukunftsfonds Heilbronn (ZFHN), which invests in Israeli technology.

Schwarz Group also purchased XM Cyber, whose co-founder, Noam Erez, has an extensive background in the Israeli intelligence community.

Tesco, another supermarket giant and Pride sponsor, announced a long-term strategic partnership with Barclays Bank, which has been under fire for its ties to Israeli arms companies.

Tesco also works with Trigo, whose co-founders worked on projects with the Israeli army.

Deutsche Bank invests $4bn in Boeing, according to the Risky Returns report. Boeing is the top US manufacturer of missiles and munitions delivered to Israel. 

In response, Pride in London issued a statement saying it was “disappointed by LGSMigrants’ statement suggesting that we ghosted the organisation” and that it had “offered a face-to-face meeting” to discuss LGSMigrant’s concerns.

“Pride in London stands with all those suffering from the devastating war and genocide in Gaza,” it said.

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“All partnerships are assessed on a case-by-case basis in accordance with our Partnerships Ethical Policy.”

Queers for Palestine (QFP) also opted out of Pride in London. Instead, it has organised “Decolonising Pride: A Celebration of Resistance” on the same day.

The event includes political education “exploring how queerness is used as a capitalist and colonial tool”, according to the organisation’s Instagram.

Imaan LGBTQI Muslim Support, which also decided not to participate in Pride in London, organised the UK’s first Muslim Pride the previous weekend.

“We can’t, in good conscience, march alongside corporations that enable and profit off of the genocide of our siblings in Palestine,” the organisation said.

Middle East Eye has contacted Pride in London, Cisco, Coca-Cola, Lidl, Tesco and Deutsche Bank for comment.

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