The entire community advisory board of the organisation behind the London LGBTQ+ Pride event has resigned, citing “bullying, gaslighting and marginalisation” of volunteers – particularly those who are black or people of colour.
The CAB called for the entire leadership of the organisation to be replaced and for the Mayor of London’s office to investigate allegations of racism and bullying.
The statement expressed concern that the organisation had no formal anonymous complaints system, despite being advised to set one up by the CAB.
It also advised people of colour that if they wanted to volunteer for an organisation that valued their lived experience, acted on its values, protected marginalised volunteers and embraced transparency, they should “look elsewhere”.
The CAB was set up in 2012 to allow volunteers to advise staff on inclusivity within the organisation, which runs the UK’s biggest pride event, attracting 1.5 million people a year.
The resignations come the day after Rhammel Afflick, Pride in London’s communications director and the organisation’s most senior black member of staff, resigned, alleging the CIC had ignored bigotry and ostracised black volunteers.
In its resignation statement today, the CAB said Pride in London had “experienced a high number of resignations across all levels” in recent weeks, and that those who had resigned had complained to the CAB of “dysfunctional working environments” and “bullying and appalling behaviour from senior individuals”.
It said the CAB had “raised serious concerns” in multiple annual reports about the lack of a complaints process, but nothing had been done.
“Without an anonymous process to report bullying or raise concerns, the most vulnerable and marginalised volunteers remain unprotected in a hostile culture,” the statement said.
The statement accused Pride in London of having “reneged on its support of Black Lives Matter and its commitments to ‘listen to, advocate for and platform black LGBT+ people’” through failing to limit police involvement in the annual Pride parade following the death of George Floyd in May 2020.
It said the issues in the statement had been repeatedly raised by the CAB and other LGBTQ+ organisations, but had persisted despite Pride in London’s promises to improve.
“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,” the statement said.
The outgoing chair of the CAB, Ozzy Amir, told Third Sector: “We just don’t believe that the current leaders of the organisation are able to make the changes the organisation needs.
“It’s sad that it has to take something like an entire board resigning or dozens of volunteers stepping down to instigate change – it speaks volumes about how the organisation hasn’t empowered people to make changes from within.”
Amir said key decisions, such as the one involving police marching in the parade, did not align with the organisation’s publicly stated values, and a repeated failure to follow community advice had “seriously undermined trust in the advisory process”.
He said: “We cannot be party to this any longer.”
Pride in London said it took concerns about bullying “very seriously” and had a number of processes in place for volunteers to lodge formal complaints, including anonymously.
The CIC acknowledged it needed to “rebuild trust with black communities and people of colour” and said it was conducting a board-level review of its processes and procedures “to bring about tangible and meaningful change”, and would share the results within the next week.