The activists from Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants (LGSMigrants), a queer group that stands in solidarity with other communities facing state violence and media attacks; have occupied British Airways i360 in protest against the airline’s complicity with migrant deportations from the UK. The BA i360 is a 162-metre observation tower located on the seafront of Brighton.
In the statements issued on social media, LGSMigrants say:
We oppose British Airways’ complicity with deporting people from the UK.
As a sponsor of Brighton Pride, BA are keen to present their company as an ally of the LGBTQIA+ community in our fight for freedom. But the presence and sponsorship of companies that profit from deportations is an affront to the vision of freedom Pride represents. It is an added insult that many of those deported on British Airways are LGBTQIA+ people who should be marching with us on the parade but instead are brutally rounded up and ejected from the UK to face poverty, persecution and in some cases death.
Sponsoring Brighton and Hove Pride is not compatible with supporting brutal and and unjust deportations. We won’t stand by and let British Airways use their Pride sponsorship to polish their image while they are complicit in the Home Office’s cruel deportations.
Earlier this week the group released an open letter criticising British Airways for sponsoring Brighton and Hove Pride while deporting migrants.
BA claims that it has a legal duty under the Immigration Act to remove individuals when requested to do so by the Home Office. However, in July another airline company, Virgin Atlantic, following pressure from LGBTQIA+ activists before London Pride, said that it will no longer cooperate with the Home Office in involuntary deportations.
According to Corporate Watch’s report, each year the Home Office deports over 12,000 people in “enforced returns”. Over 20,000 more are pushed into so-called “voluntary” departure. The majority of deportations take place on standard scheduled flights. In 2010, a deportation victim Jimmy Mubenga was killed by three G4S guards in the back seats of the British Airways plane.
You can watch a video from today’s BA i360 occupation here.
Source, video and photo: Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants