London Mayor Boris Johnson will not be attending World Pride in the city this Saturday (7 July).
We can now confirm the rumor that he is not attending – at a time when criticism of the mayor for failing to salvage the scaled-down event is reaching new heights.
A spokesman for the mayor told us: ‘He has attended [London Pride] in the past. He won’t be at this event. He doesn’t attend everything.’
Some sources have suggested that Johnson would have faced jeers and protests if he had marched at the front of pride as in previous years.
A cash crisis forced Pride London to scale down this Saturday’s World Pride, cancelling floats in the parade, which will now just be a march, and axing a street party in the gay district of Soho.
Since then, extra sponsorship has come forwards but an all agency meeting at Johnson’s City Hall, including Westminster City Council and the Metropolitan Police decided not to let Pride London go ahead in with the celebrations in their original in spite of this.
The resignation of Pride London chair Patrick Williams failed to convince the agencies to allow the pride board to restore floats and the street party to World Pride.
Meanwhile Gay Star News has seen the evidence proving that City Hall demanded veteran LGBT activist, Peter Tatchell, who has been part of London Pride since it’s earliest days, should not speak at the event.
Johnson has now been forced to back down on the ban on Tatchell speaking at the rally.
But Tatchell told GSN: ‘Contrary to suggestions by the mayor’s office I am planning to speak exclusively on 40 years of gay pride, the campaigns for marriage equality and the bid for worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality.
‘My speech will not be party political. I will simply be defending the LGBT consensus for freedom and equality.
‘I expect the mayor’s office may still find some reason to block me from speaking. In previous years I have been banned by Boris aides from attending mayoral LGBT receptions. It is clearly political, I am not towing City Hall’s line. I have exposed their shortcomings and the bid to block me is pure revenge.’
City Hall did wave the cost of hiring Trafalgar Square for the event. But Tatchell claims the cost of contractors to run the rally in the square have spiralled.
Last year, they were reportedly in the region of £50,000 (€62,000 $78,000). This year they are allegedly £100,000 (€124,000 $156,000), creating much of the cash short-fall which threatened the event. Tatchell says City Hall pushed pride to use more expensive contractors.
While he admits Pride London bosses must take much of the responsibility for the situation World Pride has found itself in, he feels Johnson could have done more.
He said: ‘City Hall has known about the problems for many weeks. Like pride, the mayoral team failed to involve other LGBT stakeholders and financiers to raise extra cash and to draft a credible rescue plan. If the mayor had acted weeks ago, we would not be in this mess.’
Johnson’s spokesman responded: ‘This is an event organized by representatives of the community and they should have put plans in place.’
Gay Star News has put a series of other questions to City Hall about their handling of World Pride and is still awaiting a response.