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Virgin’s sponsorship of London Pride sparks fury among LGBT community

LONDON Pride organisers angered LGBT activists yesterday following a series of blunders including an insulting advertising campaign and welcoming Virgin Atlantic as sponsors — despite the airline’s involvement in deporting gay asylum-seekers.

The event tweeted to followers: “We’re proud to have Delta and Virgin-Atlantic flying the flag for Pride at this year’s festival! #PrideInLondon #PrideInFlight.”

However, Crowsa Luxemburg was quick to reply: “Y’all still deporting LGBT asylum-seekers?”

And illustrator Timsay Lohan said: “Poor choice of sponsors there.”

Virgin Atlantic has provided its planes to assist the government in deportations.

In 2011 the airline was prepared to deport Ugandan lesbian Brenda Namigadde before she eventually won her right to stay.

Author Huw Lemmey tweeted: “Virgin Atlantic have been repeatedly involved in the attempted deportation of LGBT asylum-seekers.

“Count me out of #PrideinLondon.”

It isn’t the first time that London Pride organisers have got themselves into hot water. They were forced to remove their Love Happens Here advertising posters following a backlash over its insensitive content.

One heart-shaped advert included the words: “Being homophobic is sooo gay.”

And another said: “My gay friends make me more attractive by association.”

An angered Ryan James responded: “Imagine being a kid at school who dies a little every time they hear something called ‘sooooo gay’ and then seeing this trash.”

London Pride organisers said: “It is clear we misjudged the content of some of the messages in this poster series, undermining the individuality, importance, and dignity of the LGBT+ community.

“This was never our intention, and we are genuinely sorry to have played any part in something that appears to devalue our own community, and have removed these four images from our campaign.”

Virgin Atlantic said: “The Home Office manages immigration policy and is the decision maker in any deportation case. The Home Office makes the flight arrangements for all deportee passengers, and it is not for any airline to refuse to carry a deportee passenger on the grounds of their immigration case, as we don’t have any official insight into individual cases.

“We have a long history of supporting the LGBT+ community, and participate in a number of LGBT+ events around the world. We pride ourselves on creating an airline where our people and customers can be themselves without fear of judgement or prejudice because of how they identify or who they love.”

London Pride takes place on Saturday July 8.


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