Pride Cymru urged to reconsider GE support

Crowds walk through the street holding flags
Image caption Part of last summer's parade as part of Pride Cymru in Cardiff

A campaigner has called for Pride Cymru to reject support from a company that has donated money to US politicians "working against" lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) rights.

Peter Tatchell claimed General Electric (GE) support for Wales' biggest LGBT festival in Cardiff was inappropriate.

He said this was because it had backed politicians criticised by an LGBT advocacy group for their voting record.

GE said it was "committed" to promoting human rights and diversity.

Pride Cymru added that it worked with corporate partners to "raise awareness of challenges faced by the LGBT+ community".

The annual event, which takes place later this month, expects to attract around 50,000 people over three days, with live acts including Liberty X, Texas and Atomic Kitten.

GE is among a group of official "supporters", who make smaller donations rather than being one of the main event sponsors.

Research by US journalist Judd Legum found that nine companies who have been given the highest possible rating by the American Human Rights Campaign (HRC), an LGBT advocacy group, had donated more than $1m to politicians who had themselves been given the lowest possible rating by the HRC, based on their voting record on LGBT matters.

Mr Legum told BBC Wales: "The point was to show that the companies that on the outside try to project a very gay-friendly vibe - behind the scenes they're financing the politicians who are working to undermine LGBTQ rights so I do think there's a hypocrisy there that needed to be exposed."

One of the companies identified was GE, which is also a big investor in Qatar, where homosexuality is illegal.

GE Aviation employs around 1,400 people at its maintenance plant at Nantgarw near Caerphilly.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Peter Tatchell during Pride in London last month

Mr Tatchell, a veteran gay rights and human rights activist, said it was not appropriate for the company to support Pride Cymru.

"I've got no objection in principle to corporations funding pride events, providing they're ethically vetted to make sure they're ethical companies that do not invest in countries that criminalise homosexuality and they do not fund organisations and politicians that work against LGBT rights," he said.

"I hope Pride Cymru will reconsider their acceptance of General Electric sponsorship. It's not ethical and it's not appropriate."

But Gian Molinu, chair of Pride Cymru said he was "disappointed" with Mr Tatchell's criticism, and felt it was important for the charity to work with multinational companies.

"By engaging with them, we are working to break down barriers and we are ensuring that they listen to the voices of the LGBT+ community," he said.

"Although this can be problematic, especially with organisations that operate on a larger, international scale, it's necessary that we do not shy away from approaching and working with those organisations."

'Active alliance'

He added: "We cannot campaign for change and become an inclusive society by avoiding relationships and conversations with global organisations."

A GE spokesman said it operated in 180 countries that all had "unique political systems and domestic complexities".

He added: "We are committed to promoting human rights, diversity and ethical practices within our operations and supply chain.

"We believe our engagement helps drive toward human progress through technological improvement, transparency and workforce development.

"GE is an equal opportunities employer with an active alliance dedicated to supporting and developing our LGBT employees."

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