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Sussex University Sponsors Pride 2017

Pride 2017 is a fabulous spectacle of a community celebrating its support for LGBTIQ+. Thousands lined the streets of Brighton and poured to the sunny seafront to watch the colourful parade. It was a happy affair which kicks off the weekend of festivities across Brighton.

However, amongst the celebrations, colour and glitter there are concerns that the importance of Pride and the LGBTIQ+ rights movement may be forgotten.

This year celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act (1967). The act is widely viewed as decriminalising homosexuality, or partially legalising it. Despite this, many LGBTIQ+ individuals are still forced to struggle for their rights worldwide.

Attendees of the Brighton Pride Parade 2017 included a whole host of political groups: Amnesty International with their slogan “love is a human right”, UK political parties, mental health groups and asylum seeker solidarity groups. Their presence acts as a reminder that homophobia, transphobia and other forms of discrimination are still a huge issue.

Take, for example, the torture of gay men in Chechnya, denial of same-sex marriage for many and the recent announcement by US President Trump that transsexuals may be excluded from military service; reversing a right that was won but a few years ago.

It also wouldn’t be far fetched to say that Pride is experiencing a corporate takeover. A variety of companies such as major supermarket chains, travel companies and Sussex University are among the sponsors of Pride 2017.

Chris Lewis, who is the LGBTQ+ Students Officer and chair of Sussex LGBTQ+ society, said: “Taking part in Brighton Pride this year is going to be amazing. It is a wonderful time for me, the society, and the wider LGBTQ+ community…

“…This [Sussex’s Pride sponsorship] is fantastic news, demonstrating the University of Sussex’s commitment to the LGBTQ+ community”.

Students seem to have positive feelings with regards to Sussex University’s sponsorship. Brighton resident and Sussex student Kirstie Mitchell said: “I agree it[’]s good they [Sussex] got involved but they are already expected to, being an accepting uni and all…

“…It would be more beneficial for someone/ a business or company who didn[’]t have a history of liberal thoughts or values to be involved in terms of proving to the LGBT community that they are being accepted and it[’]s okay to be who they are.”

Juliet Taylor, also a Sussex student said of Pride: “[I] wish I was there. It’s good for Sussex but it’s also kinda [sic] good for Brighton. I guess people do expect a uni to integrate [in]to its city”. Despite these positive views, there are concerns that Pride has also become an avenue for advertising and promotion and some important Pride messages can become lost.

The University of Sussex has been flying a pride flag since July and showcased their first ever Pride Parade float on August 5. Sussex also offers its campus rooms for Pride goers to rent. The Vice-Chancellor, Adam Tickell, has said: “The University has always valued diversity and equal rights; this ethos underpins everything that we are as an institution.”.

Prof. Andrea Cornwall, Deputy Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Equality and Diversity), said: “There is still much more that can be done to improve recognition of LGBT+ rights and increase understanding of the issues that LGBT+ individuals and communities face. I’m delighted that the University is an official partner of this year’s Brighton and Hove Pride.”.

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