Peckham Pride: LGBT+ And Migrant Groups Protest Against Deportations And Raids

Hundreds of migrants and members of the LGBT+ community joined forces last weekend and marched in south-east London to protest against deportations and immigration raids.

Peckham Pride saw activists, locals and shopkeepers flood the streets, armed with both rainbow flags and placards.

“Gay venues used to be raided by police and now it’s migrant-owned shops,” said Ida-Sofie Picar, member of Lesbians and Gays support the Migrants and organiser of Peckham Pride.

“If they strike one community that’s a threat to all of us, that’s why we need to stand together and fight,” Picar told HuffPost UK.

The event, in its second year, is held in February which also marks LGBT+ History month, commemorating 50 years since the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK.

But protesters highlighted a bisexual asylum seeker was deported to Nigeria last January, where same-sex relationships are punishable for 14 years in prison.

(Photo: HuffPost UK)
(Photo: HuffPost UK)

Fighting such deportations is what has united the activist groups and local Peckham community.

Antonia Bright, an organiser for campaign group Movement for Justice, told HuffPost UK Peckham supported of the protest. Bright explained the massive impact raids and deportations have on the community: “It is a black, immigrant community. Everyone knows someone who has been thrown in a detention centre, or has been threatened with deportation.”

An independent review into the welfare of detainees in immigration facilities was released in 2016. It called for ministers to “boldly and without delay” reduce the 30,000 people detained each year.

Commissioned by the-then Home Secretary Theresa May, the Shaw Report called for a complete ban on the detention of pregnant women in immigration centres such as Yarl’s Wood.

The report also noted there should also be a “presumption against detention” of victims of rape and sexual violence, people with learning difficulties, and those with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Nigerian lesbian asylum seeker Rosemary, who has asked for her surname not to be published, is a former detainee of the controversial detention centre Yarl’s Wood.

Rosemary joined locals in Peckham to fight charter flights, which she says are a regular part of the detention regime.

During her time inside Yarl’s Wood, Rosemary says she helped stop the deportation of 17 detainees and claimed the Home Office signed their travel documents without permission.

“Yarl’s Wood is not a place to be. It is a place you are deprived for liberty, your liberty has been taken. Freedom is taken away from you,” Rosemary told HuffPost UK.

The organisers of Peckham Pride added they hope the march has sent out a powerful message of solidarity between queer and migrant communities.

“Who they are targeting might shift, but the oppression is the same,” Picar concluded.

The Huffington Post UK has contacted the Home Office for comment.

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This article originally appeared on HuffPost.