Pride in London is investigating its relationship with iconic London landmark The Shard after a Twitter user pointed out that the anti-LGBT+ State of Qatar owns the building.
The building’s viewing platform – The View From The Shard – is currently advertising a ‘Pride Ticket’. It promises to give 10% to Pride in London for each of the special tickets sold.
However the State of Qatar owns 95% of the landmark – which is the tallest building in the UK.
Qatar offers no legal rights or protections to LGBT+ people. Indeed, it still punishes homosexuality with seven years in prison. Moreover, it retains the death penalty for consensual gay sex. This only applies to Muslims and there are no records of it being used.
Earlier today Twitter user Anthony (@anorderlymess) raised the question about The Shard’s involvement in Pride in London.
He tweeted: ‘The Shard is owned by the State of Qatar, where it is illegal to be LGBTQ+.
‘Qatari LGBTQ+ people can be jailed, fined and receive the death penalty for being themselves. They’re not even allowed to campaign for their own rights. Why have you partnered with them @PrideInLondon?’
And he added: ‘@PrideInLondon is essentially encouraging people to spend money on visiting @TheShardLondon, where profits will filter overseas to the Qatari government, who will use it to further oppress their LGBTQ+ citizens. Make it make sense.’
The Shard’s rainbow-wash
The View From The Shard website reveals their Pride Ticket is available until the end of July.
It says the tourist destination will donate 10% of the ticket value to Pride in London. And it adds: ‘This will contribute towards their newest initiative, the Unity Fund, helping to address the needs of LGBT+ people, as well as support their vital work.’
The ticket comes in a ‘Pride design’ and it offers fast-track entry and an ‘exclusive Pride cocktail or mocktail’.
Meanwhile the accompanying image literally rainbow-washes London’s skyline.
Did Pride in London know of The Shard’s anti-LGBT+ link?
It is not clear if Pride in London’s board had detailed knowledge of the relationship with The View From The Shard. Board members may also not have realized that Qatar owned the building.
However Qatar’s anti-LGBT+ human rights abuses have been in the spotlight in recent years.
LGBT+ sports fans were distressed that Qatar won the right to host the 2019 athletics World Championships. Meanwhile FIFA’s decision to award it the soccer World Cup in 2022 was even more controversial.
Moreover, London’s transport network has banned Qatar from advertising itself as a tourist destination due to its LGBT+ and human rights situation.
GSN has reached out to Pride in London and The View From The Shard for comment.
Meanwhile GSN also spotted that The Shard features prominently in the Pride in London logo.
The building stands in yellow alongside silhouettes of other London landmarks St Paul’s Cathedral, Elizabeth Tower (better known as Big Ben), The Gherkin and The London Eye.
GSN has asked Pride in London if they will now revisit the logo design, which has included The Shard for several years.
It is likely the logo’s designer chose the building as a symbol of the UK capital’s skyline without realizing its anti-LGBT links.
UPDATE: Pride in London responds
Pride in London has now responded to GSN but declined to issue a formal statement.
They agree they do have an agreement with The View From The Shard but insist they have no direct dealings with the rest of The Shard.
Pride says LGBT+ staff from the tourist attraction approached them wanting to sell tickets and make a donation. Pride in London agreed to this.
However, this agreement was not in a formal contract and was not the same as those given to official ‘partners’. Therefore they say they have asked The View From The Shard to remove the word ‘partnership’ from the ticket offer, though they are continuing with the rest of the agreement.
Meanwhile Pride in London declined to comment about the appropriateness of The Shard appearing in their logo.