LGBTI activists infiltrated a London gala to protest airlines deporting refugees last night (30 January).
Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants posed as guests at the gala hosted by Airlines UK.
Many executives were in attendance at the Park Plaza Hotel in London. Guests included UK government aviation minister Baroness Liz Sugg and British Airways CEO Alex Cruz.
How did the protest group get into the Airlines UK gala?
The 14 young activists donned borrowed tuxedos and dresses. Some also dyed their hair, bought wigs, removed piercings and covered tattoos.
Entering through two separate ends of the hotel, the group marched into the function room.
They said they also managed to get in by walking in with a ‘huge sense of entitlement’.
They then waited until all guests were seated and the speeches were underway.
LGSMigrants said a team of eight handed out sick bags to guests. Four stormed the stage, revealing a banner saying ‘Deportation Contracts Make Us Sick’. Security then removed each activist as they chanted one by one.
‘We saw this as a way of getting in front of the CEOs of all the major airlines in the UK,’ Sam Björn, of LGSMigrants told Gay Star News.
‘We managed to hand a sick bag to BA’s CEO Alex Cruz – if he didn’t know about us before he does now.’
Virgin Atlantic last year changed their policy to stop accepting deportation contracts from the Home Office.
‘Deportations endanger the lives and safety of migrants’
Björn added in a statement: ‘Deportations endanger the lives and safety of migrants.
‘While the airline industry elite enjoy a luxury three-course meal, thousands of migrants are stranded in countries where they have little to no connections and are vulnerable to severe harm and potential death.
‘We call on BA and other commercial airlines to end their deportation contracts with the Home Office and take a stand against the Government’s racist hostile environment’.
Gay Star News contacted Airlines UK to see if they had a different view of last night’s events. We asked if they would be taking any action after the infiltration. We also asked whether they would address the protest group’s concerns or even tighten security at future events.
An Airlines UK spokesperson told GSN: ‘We’re not commenting on this.’
Home Office’s ‘enforced returns’
A Home Office spokesperson explained the government makes ‘enforced returns’ on charter and regular scheduled flights.
Seats on scheduled flights are also quickly arranged in service of individual cases.
A Home Office spokesperson told Gay Star News: ‘When someone has no legal right to remain in the UK they should return to their home country.
‘We will always help people who wish to leave voluntarily, but when an individual refuses to return to their home country and we are confident that no other approaches will work, then we will seek to enforce their removal.’