Southampton Pride drops sponsorship from ExxonMobil and HSBC following calls from local LGBT+ environmental campaigners

Southampton Pride drops sponsorship from ExxonMobil and HSBC following calls from local LGBT+ environmental campaigners

By Sally Churchward. Picture by Mike Daish. 

Southampton Pride has ended ties with ExxonMobil and HSBC following calls from local LGBT+ environmental campaigners. Previously both organisations were listed as ‘bronze sponsors’ on the Southampton Pride website.

Southampton LGBT+ Climate Coalition, recently published an open letter to the organisers of Southampton Pride calling on them to cut the event’s ties with fossil fuel companies and funders.

The signatories of the open letter, who are all themselves LGBT+ community members, stated that pride ‘must not be used to sanitise the image of companies that are directly contributing to the climate emergency’ and that ‘the companies responsible for killing our planet have no place at Pride’. In it they requested a response from Southampton Pride by today (August 4th).

A response published this afternoon by Southampton Pride did not directly address the complaints outlined in the open letter. However, a link was provided to the organisations partners and sponsors, which no longer features ExxonMobil and HSBC.

The full statement from Southampton Pride reads:

 “As a grassroots, volunteer-driven organisation, our primary focus is and will forever be on bringing people together in celebration and solidarity for the LGBTQ+ community. The strong relationships we build with our passionate sponsors and partners is vital to the success and growth of Southampton Pride. We regularly review our relationships to ensure we can remain focused on our mission, and a full list of our partners and sponsors is available on our website.

“Southampton Pride was founded in 2016 as a response to the homophobic attack on the Pulse Nightclub and over the last 7 years has welcomed close to 100,000 people to the city of Southampton to come together and both celebrate our identity freely but continue to campaign for the rights of LGBTQ+ people across the globe. In the year up to March 2022, Hampshire saw the highest increase in reported hate crime across the South, with sexual orientation hate crimes rising by 65%. Alongside this, the number of hate crimes committed against transgender people in England and Wales increased in recent years, reaching 4,355 offences in 2021/22 compared with just 313 such offences in 2011/12.

“Southampton Pride remains committed to fighting back against hate crime of all varieties, protecting our local LGBTQ+ community from discrimination and prejudices and ensuring all in our community are free to live their lives away from hate and injustice.” 

In response to the statement, Southampton LGBT+ Climate Coalition said:

We’re pleased to see that Southampton Pride has listened to calls from the community and dropped its sponsorship by ExxonMobil and HSBC. That sends out a clear signal that fossil fuel companies can no longer use the rainbow flag to cover up their ecocidal activities. We hope other Prides around the country will take note and drop their own dubious sponsors. And we hope that Southampton Pride will join other prides in signing the Fossil Free Pride Pledge and committing not to accept fossil fuel sponsorship in future.

Questions do still remain about the suitability of other sponsors, such as the headline sponsors P&O Cruises and Cunard, due to the serious environmental impact of cruise shipping. So we would urge Southampton Pride to reflect on its other partnerships too in future years. But for now we would like to thank them for doing the right thing and wish them a happy and successful Pride.”

At the time of writing the open letter, Southampton Pride listed the oil and gas company ExxonMobil and the bank HSBC as ‘bronze sponsors’ on its website. ExxonMobil has been accused of lobbying to water down climate legislation. Earlier this year a leak from its Fawley refinery contaminated part of Southampton Water. HSBC is one of the leading global funders of fossil fuels, whose clients include companies drilling for oil in the Amazon and Arctic.

The open letter urged Southampton Pride ‘in the strongest terms’ to drop sponsorship by ExxonMobil and HSBC and to sign the Fossil Free Pride Pledge. Fossil Free Pride is a national campaign calling on all UK prides to refuse sponsorship from or partnerships with fossil fuel companies. In June, attendees at People’s Pride Southampton (Southampton’s other main pride event) signed a petition calling on all Hampshire prides to adopt the Fossil Free Pride Pledge.

Fossil Free Pride responded to today’s news, saying: ‘We’re very pleased that Southampton Pride has listened to the people it represents and dropped ExxonMobil and HSBC from its sponsorship page. By joining other Prides in dropping fossil fuel sponsorship, they are sending the message that the LGBTQ+ movement is on the side of people across the world who face ecological destruction. We hope they have a fantastic Pride and look forward to working with them afterwards to hopefully sign the Fossil Free Pride Pledge.’

A small protest was staged at last year’s Southampton Pride over its sponsorship by ExxonMobil and HSBC. Recent months have seen protests staged at the British LGBT Awards and London Pride over their fossil fuel links. Numerous high-profile nominees pulled out of the British LGBT Awards due to their sponsorship by Shell and BP.

This year’s Southampton Pride takes place on Saturday, August 26th. For more information, visit:

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