One of the world’s largest arms companies sponsoring Pride is utterly sickening

Pride flag with the BAE systems logo
Emily Apple

On 1 February, Surrey Pride announced that BAE Systems is going to be its lead sponsor. BAE Systems is the fourth largest arms company in the world and its warplanes are used in Saudi Arabia‘s attacks on Yemen.

Surrey Pride admitted the decision would be “controversial”. But it’s a lot more than controversial. It is utterly sickening.

“A welcoming, supportive business”

Speaking to Pink News, Theresa Palmer from BAE Systems said that she was “extremely proud” about the sponsorship deal and that:

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As a local employer we want to make clear to our community that they have a welcoming, supportive business on their doorstep.

But that support obviously doesn’t apply to LGBTQI+ rights in the places BAE Systems sells weapons. As one Twitter user pointed out:

Roger Carr, chair of BAE Systems, stated:

I don’t think it’s our job to stand up as pressure groups against countries and their laws. We are there to influence but not to campaign.

BAE Systems also supplies arms to Turkey, where the government banned and attacked Pride in Istanbul.

“Weapons kill queers”

Social media users tweeted their anger at this decision:

And others started using the hashtags #noprideinwar and #dropBAE:

We can win

Campaign group No Pride in War told Pink News:

We now have a decisive motive to organise as queers and rally against this toxic display of prioritising weapons over people.

Social media users also pointed out how public pressure forced BAE to drop its sponsorship of the Great Exhibition of the North.

Bristol Pride also faced criticism in 2018 accepting Airbus as one of its sponsors. Airbus is an arms company that supplies parts to military aircraft in Turkey and has a factory in Bristol. Campaigners called accepting the sponsorship “blood money”.

While Bristol Pride went ahead with the sponsorship, organisers told The Canary that they were “committed to finding a way forward”. And following a meeting with campaigners, they agreed to have more formal ethical guidelines for future events.

So it’s down to all of us to tell Surrey Pride that there is no pride in war; that accepting sponsorship from a company selling weapons to countries that kill and imprison LGBTQI+ people is utterly sickening.

BAE Systems deals in death and destruction. Its weapons are used to kill and repress people. And no amount of pinkwashing will ever remove the blood it has drenched on its hands.

Featured image via Wikimedia/Benson Kua and Wikimedia

Get involved

  • Tell Surrey Pride and BAE systems what you think using #noprideinwar and #dropBAE.
  • Support Campaign Against Arms Trade.
  • Get active and help to shut down one of the world’s largest arms fairs.

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