Environment

Here’s why British LGBT Awards has dropped ties with fossil fuel giants Shell and BP 

Comedian Joe Lycett, journalist and author Shon Faye, and the UK's first LGBTQ+ museum, Queer Britain, have all rejected their invitations

pride flags being waved at a Pride celebration

2023 marks the 51st anniversary of a Pride march in the UK. (Image: Teddy O/Unsplash)

Oil giants BP and Shell are no longer supporting the British LGBT Awards after a host of celebrities, campaigners, role models and organisations rejected their award nominations in protest.

Alongside Amazon, Nestle and Macquarie Capital, the fossil fuel producers were chosen as supporters due to their “proactive approach and firm commitment to advancing equality, diversity and inclusion among our LGBTQ+ community”, according to the awards organisers.

But they have been dropped after campaigners called on nominees to withdraw their support, saying that the LGBT community and allies “can’t ignore the damage that they are doing both to our community outside of their workplace and beyond our community.”

“Harmful companies have been latching onto our community via pinkwashing pride sponsorships for years now (well, since it has been profitable for them to do so) in an attempt to soften their image,” campaign groups Queer House Party and Fossil Free Pride told the Big Issue in a joint statement. 

Both groups will still host a demonstration outside the event “until all harmful corporate sponsors have been dropped and there is an ongoing commitment to not allow them into our spaces again.”

Comedian Joe Lycett is the latest big name to pull out of the British LGBT Awards, set to take place this Friday 23 June, as reported by the Guardian

The annual awards ceremony is supposed to recognise those who have helped advance the fight for LGBTQ rights, but with sponsorship from some of world’s largest fossil fuel companies and funders producers, campaigners are imploring people to boycott the event. 

Lycett was nominated for his protest of “shredding” £10,000 in an attempt to persuade David Beckham to withdraw his ambassadorship for the Qatar World Cup, but has confirmed to the Guardian that he will not participate in the event.

Drag queen Cheddar Gorgeous, who appeared on RuPaul’s Drag Race UK, has also withdrawn, “with sadness but necessary resolve”, saying they have rejected their nomination for “TV moment of the year”.

“The event unfortunately has a number of sponsors with questionable track records on climate change, racism and inequality, including BP and Shell. These two in particular have consistently failed to back up rhetoric of low carbon transition with actions to that effect,” they wrote on Instagram. 

“Given the nomination was offered for an act of creative advocacy, it wouldn’t feel right to be part of the event knowing the damage these companies are still doing to the environment and communities most affected by climate change.”

Campaign group Fossil Free Pride began calling for the awards to end their sponsorship deals with Shell, BP, HSBC, Santander, Amazon, Nestle and Macquarie Capital in April, but say they have received no engagement. 

They have called on the nominees set to receive awards, including broadcasters Graham Norton and Sue Perkins, and celebrity allies such as actress Emma Watson and singer Harry Styles, to reject their nominations “in support of our community and the people who are disproportionately affected by the climate crisis being drastically worsened by these corporations.”

“These companies are responsible for displacing millions of people, looting and plundering land, destroying major ecosystems, and investing in environmental catastrophes and military violence.”

“For these kinds of companies to be advertised at the British LGBT Awards represents a defeat for the LGBTQ communit and an insult to everyone that we stand in solidarity with internationally.”

Journalists Shon Faye and Sharan Dhaliwal, podcaster Josh Rivers and the trans campaigner Fox Fisher have also requested for their nominations to be withdrawn, as reported by the Lycett’s request to have his nomination withdrawn has been confirmed to the Guardian by his management company.

LGBTQ+ activists who are part of Just Stop Oil wrote in a letter to the awards’ directors: “By choosing to accept sponsorship from BP, Shell, and the banks that fund them, the British LGBT Awards is choosing the side of genocide.” 

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In a statement posted to their website, organisers of the British LGBT Awards said that event sponsors were chosen due to their “proactive approach and firm commitment to advancing equality, diversity and inclusion among our LGBTQ+ community,” but wanted to address and acknowledge the concerns raised by nominees and judges who have distanced themselves from the awards. 

“The British LGBT Awards is dedicated to the long-term uplifting of the community and that means all of our community. As a result we have revised our supporters this year and once this year’s event is over we will be looking at our long-term strategy,” the statement continued.

“BP and Shell are not sponsoring the awards” a spokesperson for the British LGBT Awards confirmed to The Big Issue. 

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A spokesperson for the Proud@ShellUK Network, said: “Shell puts diversity, equity and inclusion at the heart of its employee culture and believes that a fully inclusive workplace allows our business to flourish. 

It’s important to highlight this through our presence at events like this one, and it’s regrettable that a few people have reacted so negatively, especially as we’re committed to becoming a net-zero emissions energy business by 2050.”

A BP spokesperson said: “We understand the organisers’ decision, but of course this is disappointing for bp and our people – and over 15,000 work for bp in the UK. At bp we promote an environment where everyone can be their best and true selves and feel like they belong, with no exceptions, all year round. 
That’s why we were proud to work with the British LGBT Awards to celebrate individuals and organisations that share these beliefs and recognise diversity, equity and inclusion.”  

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