Dozens of pro-Palestine demonstrators staged a powerful protest in Birmingham today (May 25) to coincide with the Birmingham Pride parade amid controversy over the event’s headline sponsor.

The West Midlands Palestine Solidarity Campaign (WMPSC) held a ‘die-in’ outside the Bullring shopping centre as the Pride parade passed by, to bring attention to the recent war on Palestine.

Activists have been urging members of the community to boycott the two-day party event until organisers sever ties with headline sponsor HSBC, who they claim is funding arms sales to Israel.

Protesters lay down outside the Bullring to protest Israel's war on Gaza Sam Qusai
Protesters lay down outside the Bullring to protest Israel’s war on Gaza

During the stunt, participants lay on the ground, some covered in fake blood and others dressed in medical scrubs, symbolising casualties of the conflict. They held signs reading “End the genocide, free Palestine.”

The silent demonstration aimed to evoke images of bodies in Gaza hospitals, highlighting the severity of the situation. This is the latest awareness raising stunt by pro-Palestinian groups in Birmingham, following last week’s dyeing of city fountains red by Palestine Action.

“We urge all who are committed to raising awareness of what is going on in Palestine to support us for the die in event,” said WMPSC chair Naeem Malik.

Campaigners held several events urging people to boycott Birmingham Pride over its controversial sponsor HSBC Sam Qusai
Campaigners held several events urging people to boycott Birmingham Pride over its controversial sponsor HSBC

“Since October 7, Israel has continued to deploy military assaults on Palestinian people with devastating consequences- we are now at a point where hospitals are being bombed to such an extent that mass graves are being uncovered. This must stop now.

“We demand justice for the victims of the Al-Shifa and Nasser massacres. The violence must end.”

Birmingham Pride boycott

The die-in was one of several weekend activities held to challenge what campaigners describe as the “pinkwashing” of Birmingham Pride.

Activists believe Pride is a protest should not be monopolised by corporations such as HSBC who allegedly support war crimes. According to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), the banking firm invests billions into companies arming Israel, which it says contributes to human rights abuses.

“Pinkwashing is a propaganda strategy used to conceal human rights violation through the facade of support for LGBTQ+ rights, used by apartheid Israel and corporations such as HSBC,” a spokesperson for PSC explained.

The protest calling for peace in Palestine was held as the Birmingham Pride parade passed by outside the Bullring Sam Qusai
The protest calling for peace in Palestine was held as the Birmingham Pride parade passed by outside the Bullring

“HSBC invest over £800 million in and provide syndicated loans worth up to £19 billion for, companies arming Israel.”

Following the most recent wave of Israeli attacks on the people of Gaza in October, Birmingham queer alternative music collective Outcast Stomp has been pushing for a boycott of the city’s Pride event.

“Until Birmingham Pride festival drop their sponsorships from companies complicit in the occupation and genocide of Palestine we call for this: Queer people of Birmingham and beyond – do not attend Birmingham Pride events,” a statement from the group read.

“Artists and performers – reject Birmingham Pride’s offers and drop out of their events. Companies, stalls, organisers – drop out of Birmingham Pride’s events.

“These companies do not get to use our community’s vibrant queerness to pinkwash the blood from their hands. They will not get their names plastered all over our joy to promote themselves while their funds continue to go towards slaughtering countless martyrs in occupied Palestine.”

Shoppers were stunned to see activists lying on the ground in front of the BullringSarah Teversham
Shoppers were stunned to see activists lying on the ground in front of the Bullring

The organisation is urging Birmingham Pride organisers to remove HSBC as an event partner, along with sponsors Glamazon, McDonalds and Mondelez; all of which they have described as “genocide-profiteering companies”.

Several other groups, including Queers for Palestine and Birmingham Radical Unity Hive, have joined calls for a boycott of the West Midlands annual mardi gras style event.

On its website, HSBC states: “We firmly believe that who you love or how you identify should never be a barrier to opportunity.

“That’s why we’re proud to support Birmingham Pride – one of the UKs [sic] largest Pride festivals – and stand with our colleagues and customers to challenge prejudice through Pride marches across the UK.”


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