A group of activists have been slammed for disrupting the Pride in London parade on Saturday with a protest against transgender women.
At the parade a group of eight protesters held up signs with anti-trans messages including “lesbian not queer” and “trans activism erases lesbians.”
The group briefly lay on the ground to physically block the march from continuing, but after negotiations with organisers were permitted to get up and march the entire route, Pink News reported.
Organised under the Twitter hashtag #GetTheLOut, the group distributed flyers encouraging lesbians to separate from the LGBTIQ community and claiming butch lesbians are being forced to “socially and medically transition” to male.
One protester speaking to Pink News accused trans people of “pressuring lesbians to have sex with them”, and stated she and others had been referred to as TERFs, or “trans-exclusionary radical feminists”.
LGBTIQ charity Stonewall CEO Ruth Hunt said Pride in London organisers had failed in their duty to “act and protect trans people” at the parade.
“What was a celebration for many became a distressing experience for those in our communities who are facing hatred and hostility every day,” she said.
“That a transphobic group who are actively working against the community were able to walk the length of the route, that they faced no obstruction and were able to distribute leaflets filled with myths and lies, is hard to believe.
“Pride should have been where trans people were free. It became the opposite.”
In a statement, Pride in London apologised and said the group’s behaviour was “shocking and disgusting” but they could not forcibly remove the small group because their protest was not a criminal offence.
“The protest group showed a level of bigotry, ignorance and hate that is unacceptable. We reject what this group stands for. They do not share our values, which are about inclusion and respect and support for the most marginalised parts of our community,” the organisers said.
“We are proud of our trans volunteers, proud of the trans groups that are in our parade, proud of our trans speakers at events and proud of the trans people who take part in our campaigns and proud of those who cheered even louder for them yesterday.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who marched in the parade, also condemned the activists and said “transphobia is never acceptable.”
“Pride is about celebrating difference and London’s amazing LGBT+ community,” a spokesperson for Khan said.
“It’s about showing those round the world that in our great city you can be free to be whoever you want to be and love whoever you want to love.
“The vast majority of those present at today’s march respected and embraced that and the Mayor condemns the tiny minority who did not.”