are a social and peer support and community group. Their mission is to create safe spaces where LGBTQI people of colour can connect with community and affirm their identity.
With Pride events happening across the UK, many LGBTQ+ people and allies will be thinking about attending different celebrations and political events.
There has recently been an increase in violence at LGBTQ+ protests and events, mainly by people who aren’t really there because of the cause, they just want to make trouble.
We have created this resource to give LGBTQ+ young people practical advice on staying safe at protests and marches, as well as at events like Pride.
New legislation which may impact pride protests and marches:
In 2023, new legislation came into force as part of the Public Order and Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act. This legislation affects the policing of protests and may impact those participating in pride marches and events. As a result, those attending pride must be extra vigilant and aware of their rights. New offences in the legislation include:
- Prevention of ‘locking-on’ and ‘going equipped to lock-on’ – which is where an individual attaches themselves to others, objects or buildings in attempt to cause serious disruption.
- Prevention of obstructing major works on transport networks and interfering with key pieces of national infrastructure.
Changes to current legislation include:
- An increase in the maximum prison sentence for criminal damage to memorials up to £5,000.
- An increase in the length of prison sentences for those who attend protests that cause serious disruption to communities, individuals and organisations in the surrounding area. This includes those that bring roads and public transport networks to a standstill, and those that exceed certain noise levels.
- New legislation that aims to protect the police and other emergency workers by increasing sentences for anyone who assaults or harms an emergency worker while they are performing their role.
What to do if things go wrong at a protest, march or event:
- Ensure that when attending events such as protests or marches you don’t go alone. Plan to go with a group of friends or reach out to local community groups to see if you can attend with them.
- As stated above, it’s a good idea to make a safety plan with your friends before the event. Decide between you a safe space to meet if you get separated or if the situation is becoming violent and you need to leave.
- Ensure your meeting space is somewhere you’re all familiar with & can get to easily. Consider using the ‘Find My Friends’ app for the day and make sure your phones are all fully charged – consider taking portable battery packs with you, just in case.
- Ensure that you carry enough money to get home safely too. Sometimes taxis and public transport can be disrupted when large events are happening so make sure you take extra precautions and make a plan b just in case such as checking which transport is definitely still running, booking a taxi in advance, or arranging somewhere close to the event to stay for the night.
- Be careful around any police dogs or horses – animals can be unpredictable.
- Look after yourself and the people around you. Certain people may have more difficulty navigating their way to safety in large crowds, such as children, older people or those with disabilities. Everyone has an equal right to be present at a march, protest or other event, so support each other if you can.
- Trust your instincts. If you feel that a situation is escalating, or you feel unsafe – leave. Remember, your safety is more important than anything else.
If you are stopped you should:
- Stay calm and treat the interaction as you would any other conversation. Do not respond with verbal abuse as this could be viewed as aggressive behaviour that could escalate the situation.
- Ask for the officer’s details – in particular, make sure you see the officer’s badge or warrant card, and note down their collar number.
- Ask what grounds you have been stopped on.
- In most circumstances, you don’t have to stop or answer any questions. If you don’t, and there’s no other reason to suspect you, then this alone can’t be used as a reason to search or arrest you. If you’re uncertain, you can ask the officer whether you are being detained or whether you are free to leave and walk away.
- If the officer has reasonable grounds to believe you are carrying illegal drugs, a weapon, stolen property or something that could be used to commit a crime (such as a crowbar) then they can search you. Ask what they think they might find (this can also let you know if the areas they are searching are appropriate). An officer can ask you to take off your coat, jacket or gloves. They can also ask you to remove clothing worn for religious reasons, or other items of clothing but if they do this they must take you to a more private area out of public view.
- You do not have to give your name or address unless the officer points out an offence they suspect you have committed. However, not providing your details may lead to you being detained for longer.
- Ask for a written record or receipt of the search. If the officer cannot provide one, they should give you information on how you can get one. You can collect the receipt for up to 3 months following the search at the police station – it’ll be easier to do this if you have the officer’s collar number
- If you are arrested you should request a legal advisor as soon as possible – you can ask for a duty solicitor or can contact a specific representative (for more information on this, see Green & Black Cross Bustcards at the link below). If you are under the age of 17 an adult must be present. This can be a member of your family, a guardian or a social worker.
- If you think you have been mistreated and want to make a complaint, you can do so by calling 101, in person at your local police station, online at Make a complaint | Independent Office for Police Conduct, or via a community rights organisation such as Y-Stop, citizen’s advice or by contacting a solicitor.
What to do if you are stopped or ordained by police:
If you are stopped, you can record the interaction on your phone so long as it does not interfere or obstruct the officer – this is an offence so be careful. If you are with a friend you could ask them to record the interaction instead so as not to obstruct. If you would like to record, politely and calmly tell the officer that you are going to take out your phone first (if you reach into your pocket without warning this runs the risk of being misinterpreted as a threat).
Some officers do not like being filmed and might ask you to stop – however they can only take your phone from you if they suspect it has been stolen. You can download the Y-Stop app for use in recording. If your phone is taken from you during filming, the footage will automatically be sent to them.
If you are attending a protest, march or other event where police may be present it may be useful to print & bring a bustcard with you for accessible information on legal representation & guidance if stopped while at a protest. Green & Black Cross have prepared useful cards that you can print depending on your local area.
Safe use of drugs and alcohol/looking after friends:
If you are determined to take drugs, be aware that you cannot be certain what they contain and so moderation is key. Talk to Frank has lots of useful information and advice about different drugs.
Make sure you have friends with you who are aware of what you have taken and how much of it. Ideally you should ensure that at least one of your group remains sober so that they can take care of you should things go wrong.
If you are drinking alcohol make sure you have eaten properly and that you alternate with water so that you stay hydrated.
Make sure your phone has plenty of battery for making calls, consider using a ‘Find My Friends’ app (available on Apple and Android) for the day and agreed a place or landmark to meet at should you get split up.
If you or your friends get into trouble at an event you should go to the nearest Help Point or First Aid tent. Speak to a steward or security staff if you’re not sure what to do.
Stay cool and hydrated:
It’s important that you stay safe when out and about during the summer, especially if walking long distances when it’s hot.
- Stay hydrated. Bring a large water bottle if you can carry it, or money to buy water along the way. Many cafés and bars will give out free tap water if you ask them
- Wear sun cream. The British Association of Dermatologists recommends you use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30
- Try to keep out of the sun between 11am to 3pm, when the UV rays are strongest
- Wear cool, flowing clothes, a hat and sensible shoes like trainers or sandals with arch support. Take plasters with you if your footwear starts to rub!
Mermaids also have some advice on summer safety for people who wear binders.
People on certain medications have a strong reaction to sun and heat:
The NHS have issued important guidance on heat stroke and heat exhaustion.
They advise that you should call 999 if you or someone else have any signs of heatstroke:
- feeling unwell after 30 minutes of resting in a cool place and drinking plenty of water
- not sweating even while feeling too hot
- a high temperature of 40C or above
- fast breathing or shortness of breath
- feeling confused
- a fit (seizure)
- loss of consciousness
- not responsive
Heatstroke can be very serious if not treated quickly.
Put the person in the recovery position if they lose consciousness while you’re waiting for help.
People who take psychiatric medication are often more sensitive to sun and heat. Click here for more information on which medications might have an impact, and what you can do to stay safe in hot weather.
Some people on hormones may experience hot flushes which are made worse by the hot weather.
Follow the advice above to stay safe!