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July 6, 2011

IconBirmingham Pride ‘should remain free’

A representative of Birmingham Pride has declared that the festival is likely to remain “free” in coming years.  The revelation comes just weeks after organisers suggested that they may charge for future events.

“We are in the process of conducting a comprehensive review of this year’s event, including a survey which has been completed by a large number of members of the LGBT community,” explained festival director Lawrence Barton in an interview with Midlands Zone.

“Whilst I would not wish to pre-judge the outcome of discussions with stakeholders and the LGBT community at large, it is still our fundamental belief that the event should remain completely inclusive and therefore a free event.”

The future of Birmingham Pride was called into question this year following a small number of arrests for homophobic behaviour. An ongoing survey produced by organisers suggests that ticketing might be an appropriate solution, asking: “do you think, in principle, the event should now be ticketed with an admission charge (either in part or whole)?”

“To hide behind high fences would send out the wrong message to homophobes, said Barton. “We need to tackle this problem of homophobia head-on and deal with it. That’s one of the reasons why Pride exists – to expose this type of unacceptable behaviour.”

Barton’s statement has been welcomed by proponents of a free Pride.
“Mr. Barton should be congratulated by the LGBT community for his assurance that Birmingham Pride will remain a fundamentally free event,” Izzy John of Coalition Midlands LGBT told Lesbilicious.

“In a time of cuts which will disproportionately affect LGBT people, due to the lessening of front line health and housing services, it is crucial that at least once a year we can all access a community event free of charge,” she added.

“It is concerning that wristband charges for entertainment areas have not been totally ruled out – whilst Pride understandably costs a lot to run, this could turn into a slippery slope that might one day see Birmingham Pride take the same route as Manchester and, more recently, Brighton.”

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Ruth Pearce

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