Queer activists pressure National Student Pride to drop BP sponsorship, 2015 - 2016

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Timing
Time Period:  
early February 2015
2015
to
27 February
2015
Location and Goals
Country: 
United Kingdom
Goals: 
As stated in their open letter, No Pride in BP demanded that National Student Pride "immediately drop BP as a sponsor of National Student Pride 2015 events, commit to not enter into future sponsorship or partnership agreements with fossil fuel companies, and develop a set of ethical sponsorship guidelines that take into account the environmental and human rights record of companies."
 

“Pink-washing” refers to a practice used by entities or corporations to market themselves as LGBTQ friendly and supportive, while simultaneously committing other ethical violations. BP was a British oil and gas company that came under fire in recent years for various environmental violations, in particular an oil spill, considered one of the most damaging in history. BP spilled approximately 4.9 million barrels of oil in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010. The spill had extreme environmental and health concerns. Courts ruled that BP was responsible for the massive spill, resulting in fines of 18.7 billion dollars for the company.

In early 2015, National Student Pride (NSP), an LGBT organization for students in the United Kingdom, listed BP as a sponsor for their 2015 Pride events. However, other activists accused BP of pink washing by sponsoring these events.

Activists, mostly students from the UK, immediately decided to take action. They formed a broad coalition, called No Pride in BP, to press National Student Pride to drop BP as a sponsor and raise awareness about pinkwashing.

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They wrote an open letter to National Student Pride demanding that the organization “immediately drop BP as a sponsor of National Student Pride 2015 events, commit to not enter into future sponsorship or partnership agreements with fossil fuel companies, and develop a set of ethical sponsorship guidelines that take into account the environmental and human rights record of companies.” The letter also said that BP’s sponsorship gave the company a “social legitimacy” it did not deserve based on its record. The letter garnered almost 150 signatures in two years.

Queer activists also created a spoof website called LGBP that called on the LGBT community and its creativity to help BP recover from its bad reputation with regard to climate change. http://www.lgbp.info">https://web-beta.archive.org/web/20170315233757/http://www.lgbp.info to educate the general population about pinkwashing and especially to emphasize why National Student Pride should drop BP as a sponsor. The website mocked the way BP used support for LGBT issues to cover up their unethical environmental practices. The website also included a link to the open letter and urged website visitors to sign the letter. The website encouraged universities to prevent BP from coming to career fairs as another way to protest against the company.

On 27 February 2015, activists staged a protest at the launch of Pride Month in London. At Heaven, a gay nightclub in London, protesters dressed up as BP representatives and circulated throughout the bar with a survey to inform pride-goers about pinkwashing as well as BP’s unethical practices. Questions on the survey included “what does pink-washing mean to you?” and “what is fracking?”. After distributing the survey, protesters stripped down and pretended to wash each other with pink soap in order to symbolize the way companies, such as BP, use their support of the LGBTQ community to cover up other unethical practices. They chanted “No Pride in BP.” before the bar’s management forced the protesters to leave, ending the biggest action in this campaign.

Action from the campaign slowed after this event, but picked up again in 2016, when National Student Pride once again listed BP as a sponsor for their Pride events. On 20 January 2016, the organization People & Planet, a coalition of UK student activists fighting climate change, held an organizing meeting in Oxford. There do not appear to have been any further actions after this organizing meeting, however.

While the demands called on National Student Pride to drop BP as a sponsor for the 2015 Pride events, the organization did not drop the sponsorship until 2017. In fact, in 2016, BP was a Titanium sponsor for Pride events.

No further actions are documented after 2015 until No Pride in BP released a statement commending National Student Pride for dropping BP as a sponsor in 2017.

Research Notes
Sources: 
Fight BP's pink-washing. (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2017, from https://web.archive.org/web/20170315233631/https://peopleandplanet.org/get-involved/campaigns/fossil-free/no-pride-bp

No Pride in BP. (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2017, from https://web.archive.org/web/20170315233757/http://www.lgbp.info/

#NoPrideInBP (@noprideinbp). Retrieved March 15, 2017, from https://web.archive.org/web/20170315233834/https://twitter.com/noprideinbp

No to oil sponsorship of Student Pride. (n.d.). Retrieved March 15, 2017, from https://web.archive.org/web/20170315234004/https://campaigns.350.org/petitions/no-to-oil-sponsorship-of-student-pride

Smith, H. (2015). “Why We Picketed Student Pride.” 3 March 2015. Web site: Platform London. Retrieved March 15, 2017, from https://platformlondon.org/2015/03/03/no-pride-in-bp-student-lgbtq-sponsorship/

Name of researcher, and date dd/mm/yyyy: 
Ploy Promrat, 10/05/2017