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BAE systems to have bloc at London Pride despite role in arming homophobic regimes

WEAPONS giant BAE Systems will have a bloc representing it at London Pride today, despite its role in arming some of the world’s most homophobic regimes, peace campaigners have revealed.

LGBT+ members of the Peace Pledge Union (PPU) argued that the parade organisers are insulting the community with their inclusion of BAE Systems while it continues to arm countries such as Saudi Arabia that “routinely” imprison, torture and murder LGBT+ people.

The bloc will technically represent Outlink, a group of LGBT+ staff at BAE, the PPU said.

But the pacifist group added that in previous years, BAE staff have waved banners promoting their employer and the company has used the bloc’s presence at Pride to boast on social media that they support human rights.

LGBT+ rights activist and PPU member Rachel Melly said: “BAE Systems is complicit in human rights abuses, state suppression and fatal conflict around the world.

“Although arms companies are using Pride as a PR opportunity to sanitise their image, profiting from death and destruction has nothing to do with LGBTQ+ liberation and equality.”

In April last year, Declassified UK reported that BAE Systems had sold £17.6 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia since the start of the war in Yemen.

The conflict has caused the death of over 100,000 people as a direct result of military action, including more than 12,000 civilians, according to Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT).

The PPU said that it had “no problem” with LGBT+ employees attending the parade as individuals, but it opposes their attendance as a bloc representing the arms manufacturer and allowing BAE Systems to use Pride to “pinkwash” their image while posing as “supporters of equality.”

The group said it had spoken out previously against uniformed military blocs at Pride.

In 2018, a protest at York Pride by PPU member and their allies against an army recruitment stall led to the armed forces not being invited back to the event in the following years, the PPU said.

A BAE Systems spokesperson said: “We’re committed to being an inclusive organisation with a diverse workforce which reflects the communities in which we work.

“The work we do makes a significant contribution to our nation’s defence, security and prosperity.

“We’re proud to support our employees’ involvement in a number of Pride events across the UK and continue increasing diversity in our workplace.”

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