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Peace and human rights campaigners condemn BAE sponsorship of Leeds Pride

PEACE and human rights campaigners have condemned arms firm BAE Systems’s sponsorship of Leeds Pride parade.

Leeds Pride march and carnival, which took place on Saturday, is being sponsored by the firm which supplies weapons to Saudi Arabia where LGBT+ people face imprisonment, torture and execution.

Ellie Terry, an LGBT+ rights activist in Leeds, said: “It is absolutely not OK for companies to celebrate Pride with one hand and sell weapons to countries who oppress LGBTQ+ people with the other.

“We demand liberation for all LGBTQ+ people everywhere and will not have our struggle used for corporate PR and rainbow-washing. 

“You simply cannot claim to support our liberation while simultaneously profiting from our subjugation.”

The Peace Pledge Union (PPU) said BAE’s sponsorship was “an example of everyday militarism, with military attitudes and organisations creeping into more areas of civilian life — including human rights marches.”

The group accused Leeds Pride organisers of “insulting queer people in countries such as Saudi Arabia, armed by BAE Systems, where LGBT+ people are routinely imprisoned, tortured and killed.”

The PPU said that in 2019 BAE Systems sponsored Pride parades in Woking, Portsmouth and Blackpool. 

In Woking, four people were told by security guards to leave Pride in Surrey because they were handing out leaflets criticising BAE.

In 2016, the PPU was a founding member of the No Pride in War campaign, an informal alliance of LGBT+ activists, peace campaigners and human rights groups, which challenges attempts by armed forces and arms companies to “pinkwash” their image and misrepresent themselves as supporters of LGBT+ rights.

Leeds Pride was invited to comment.

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