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A small victory for campaigners: Tesco says it won’t sponsor London’s gay pride march next year

The company has apologised for creating ‘misunderstanding and mistrust’ and will change its policy in 2013. That is good enough for me

By on Monday, 2 January 2012

Tesco seems to have listened to its customers (Photo: PA)

Tesco seems to have listened to its customers (Photo: PA)

Yesterday at Mass, the first day of the New Year and celebrating the Feast of Mary, the Mother of God, our parish priest told us that Western civilisation was crumbling before our eyes. We all knew what he meant and we all knew that he was referring to the Christian civilisation that had built and shaped the West after the fall of the Roman Empire.

Yet I don’t want to write about doom and gloom. The bigger picture may be as our pp thinks, but we can still celebrate small victories. One of these, news of which broke just before Christmas, was that Tesco will not be sponsoring the London gay pride march in 2013. Readers of this and William Oddie’s blog will remember that we drew attention to Tesco’s decision to give £30,000 in sponsorship for a “family area” for this year’s march. Many people wrote to Tesco in response to this news, pointing out that the sponsorship did not reflect the views, beliefs and outlook of the overwhelming number of families that choose to shop at Tesco.

I wrote to the company myself, saying that it had moved from its policy of giving generous donations to charities to sponsoring a clearly political and highly controversial event. I asked them if they would do the same for a March for Life. Others wrote in to point out the debauched features of the Pride London march or the way some elements in these parades dress up in ways designed to mock Christian belief. All of us told them that by this decision the company had ceased to be “family friendly” in the way most people interpret the phrase and that we would shop elsewhere.

Judging from those people who sent me Tesco’s answers to their letters of protest, we all received stereotypical replies along the lines of “We believe everyone should be welcome at Tesco. This is reflected in the people we employ and the customers we serve. It is also reflected in the broad range of organisations and causes we serve…” followed by a list of some of the very considerable sums that Tesco donates to charities, such as the Alzheimer’s Society, and adding: “We are proud to have been invited to support World Pride in 2012 among a variety of community and charitable events.”

Without picking up here on Tesco’s sense of the words “community” or “charitable” in relation to the Pride marches, I thought this would be the end of the affair; why should a huge business like Tesco bother about – in their eyes – a bunch of hardline Christians when they had won the pink pound? Then on December 21 a friend who helps organise the Christian Party in Wales sent me an email she had received from Danielle Thomas, Tesco’s Customer Service Executive, which proved us wrong.

It began by saying, “I accept that you do not agree with our decision to sponsor Pride London. Tesco is the largest private-sector employer in the UK and our workforce comes from very diverse backgrounds… We encourage those colleagues who wish to set up their own social groupings within the company, one of the most recent of which is Out at Tesco, for gay and lesbian staff. This group asked for some support for Pride London, and we agreed to do that as part of our policy to treat all who work for us fairly.”

The email continued by stating that “Our support implies no moral, philosophical or political stance. It is not an expression of Tesco’s views; it simply reflects the diversity of the people who work for us.” But it is the concluding paragraphs that are the most significant: “We know that being the UK’s leading retailer carries unique responsibilities… We have a responsibility to listen carefully to our many and diverse customers and stakeholders, respect their views and seek to balance their opinions in the decisions we make… Whatever the issue, it is never our intention deliberately to inflame or polarise public opinion or to make an already contentious debate more contentious.

“We are very aware that a well-intended action designed simply to support some of our colleagues in Tesco has unintentionally created some misunderstanding and mistrust. We would never set out to do this and we are sorry for it. We will continue to support our colleagues in the Out at Tesco network… Most of our charitable and community awareness support is, however, focused on delivering practical benefits rather than funding awareness-raising events.

“We will, therefore, discuss with Out at Tesco how we can support them in future years in ways that will not include sponsoring events… I hope that [this] begins to restore your confidence that Tesco does try to do the right thing and does indeed listen to your feedback.”

I take this at face value and read it as a turnaround; a positive response to the very large number of letters that Tesco will have received from loyal customers, appalled at its earlier decision. I am not being triumphal about this; there will be many more battles in future on behalf of the Christian civilisation that my parish priest thinks is doomed. But it is an indication that Tesco is sensitive about, and listens to, customer feedback; that it has realised there is a big difference between charitable giving with practical benefits and funding “awareness-raising events”. The company has apologised and will change its policy in 2013. That is good enough for me for now. I have written to thank them.

  • Brought up a Christian

    You hateful vile people. May your god strike you down for your spitefulness, hatred and bigotry against what you would call your ‘fellow man’. How dare you preach forgiveness and tolerance yet champion such spite. 

  • Alexadvocacy

    @Rodney Quite the opposite, it is a victory for common sense. An area of a new-style bigotry has been defeated!

  • Ktgeorge

    A small victory for Christians? No. I’m a Christian and I fully support LGBT. This is ridiculous.

  • Toshmcginty

    You fucking bigoted cunts. I suppose it would be ok for tesco to sponsor a christian event even though any self respecting adult puts as much belief into your god ad he would santa or the easter bunny. It’s absolutely ludicrous that in this day and age your antiquated belief system should be treated with anything other than disdain, it certainly shouldn’t be at the focal point of a charitable donation.

  • Callum Saunders

    I think you have the wrong idea of what a Gay Pride march is… it’s not a gay orgy…

  • Alan Newman

    I think they got it, they just couldn’t believe anyone could actually be so stupid to actually think that way! 

    People are born Gay, being Gay and not acting like it would be like being a Dog and acting like a Monkey, its a purely natural impulse caused by the genes and thus the chemical and hormonal balance in your body. Saying it’s ok to be Gay as long as you don’t act like it is probably the stupidest thing I have ever heard and any argument you could possibly come up with is invalidated by your own stupidity! 

  • the devil you know

    iv noticed god helping gays all the time . iv never been to a pride where it rained excessively

  • Brought up a Christian

    You’ve obviously never tried gay sex. If you had, you certainly wouldn’t be complaining, dear.

  • Alexadvocacy

    The more defeats of this kinds we have, the better society will become!

  • Alan Newman

    If you are a Christian and have extreme views which infringe upon or affect other people who you have no right to have anything to do with then you are just as extremist as any Islamic Fundamentalists. 

    In fact if we are talking fundamentalism then the Catholic Church has more blood on heir hands purely based on its stance on the use of condoms against the spread of AIDs in Africa than Al-Qaeda ever could!

  • Alexadvocacy

    Wake up bigot! This opinion is held by billions of people across the world!

  • Alexadvocacy

    Agree with the second part.

  • Martley1

    These points of view just do not make any sense to any level headed person.  Homosexuality is NOT a vice and it certain is no more of an urge than that felt by heterosexuals.  All people of whatever sexuality should conduct themselves appropriately, bit please stop comparing sexuality to stealing, drunkardness and the rest.  And moreover stop trying to make me feel bad by thinking I need charitable help to win my ‘vice’.  There are  more important issues for us to be concerned with.  Seriously there are.

  • Shocked84

    How can the urge to steal or the urge to kill possibly be compared to the urge to love another human being of the same sex???? Please tell me that no-one on this earth, in this day in age, can really have these views. Some form of intelligence is needed here…please!

  • Alan Newman

    Thankfully this article doesn’t seem to be correct and once again the Church has been reduced to lies to spread it’s ‘message’. I am happy that Tesco hasn’t seemed to bow to pressure from bigots and I sincerely hope that you continue your boycott so I don’t have tow worry about being in the same building as any of you (I simply mean the bigoted, homophobic members of your community NOT all Catholics). Read this article on the Guardian as prove that this is incorrect:  

    I hope the above mentioned bigots continue to be annoyed, angry and waste their lives doing so. In the meantime I’ll be enjoying Pride as a straight man who simply likes a fucking good party!  

  • anarchic teapot

    You have no idea how a company works, have you? Not even how it’s financed.

  • timames

    Governments are elected by the people, and most people do not agree with the gay-bashing bigotry of your church.
    What is it about two consenting, same-sex adults having a loving relationship that so terrifies you?

  • Crazyredshane

    Really sad day for cathoilcs compareing raising awarenness for gay culture to the BNP - are we going back to the 1940s. So do we have to check if people are gay before they serve us thats how ridiculas it seems to pull the funding. People forget families go to these events being a catholic myself i thought that it is part of my faith – acceptence! Gutted that this rubish has come from a religion i am part of.

  • Peter Çoopèr

    You might want to avoid straight people as well then. Plenty of us are into coprophagia and anilingus too.

  • Common Sense

    Hahaha! I can’t believe that people are still so narrow minded as to think that it’s merely about the difference between charitable giving and/or it being given to something controvertial. In other words, it’s about people who are too damn ignorant to accept others as they are and don’t want money given to them. It’s 2012 and yet here we are still with examples of how blinded people were by their ignorantly influential religions and beliefs. We’re all just people. One day, you folks will all die out and we’ll be glad that we moved on from such mindless, unfounded nonsense.

  • Wallybank
  • Alex Shiell

    Disgusted by this article, if you wish to hold homophobic views then that’s your freedom… But don’t impose your views upon others. Sexual orientation is no more a political statement than is gender or ethnicity… and no more a choice than those attributes.

  • violetta

    Please don’t some of use need such medication to function. To say you would make contraception illegal shows a great misunderstand of what it used for and why people take it. I have never and may never get round to sex but I need the pill so I don’t spend three weeks of the month curled up in bed waiting for my cramps to stop so I can function again. Also consider all the women and men you are condemning to infertility by the spread of STD’s.

  • Paul Moloney

    “The bigger picture may be as our pp thinks, but we can still celebrate small victories. One of these, news of which broke just before Christmas, was that Tesco will not be sponsoring the London gay pride march in 2013″
    Maybe Catholics can also hound some gay teenagers into committing suicide. That might bring a few smiles to more bigoted faces.

  • Kay

    Seems this article is a bunch of nonsense. Tesco’s have made it clear that they’ve in no way changed their stance as a charitable supporter of Gay Pride.

  • Miguelbungle

    Anal Sex is amazing. Seriously, all you uptights should try it. There is little value I can ad to this conversation, if you are stupid enough to follow and believe in a religion then you are obviously more depraved than the most “militant” gay person. There is little to say on this subject. We are all human, get over it!!

  • Charlie Humphries

    The chances of getting a serious infection from mouth to mouth CPR are vanishingly small and massively outweighed by the benefits of CPR. 

  • Charlie Humphries

    As I said, the results are consistent with other polls conducted at other times. I have seen nothing to contradict the findings.

  • enlightened

    Shame on you…doesn’t God live everyone…or have you conveniently forgotten that ‘truth’, go back to the Dar ages where you belong

  • enlightened

    geiffreysmith1…my one consolation is that if there is a hell you’ll have a front row seat….fucking bigot

  • Charlie Humphries

    Hi Geoff! I have read a comment you made on something I wrote on the internet. We have not met. I am aware that there are people who hold the same views as you, however you are in a small minority even amongst Catholics, which was the gist of my point.
    As I said earlier, I went to a Catholic school. We studied Humanae Vitae in RE. Despite this, I still don’t know anyone amongst my Catholic friends who is against contraception.
    Incidentally, Humanae Vitae, along with every other papal encyclical, is available to read for free on the Vatican website so there is no need to buy it. 

  • Blake Tague

    I’d like to see reference to quoted ‘sources’ in the bible.

    I see no direct proof that any of the ‘stories’ ever happened exactly the way they did, again some person’s opinion, much like this article and my also my own response.

    There is no victory to be taken from gloating about ‘your’ victory, and to be honest doesn’t this whole article smack of one of the sins that is ‘Pride’… And while we’re on the subject of sin, I am gay and seen as a sinner by your religion, not mine, so in effect this means nothing to me whatsoever.

    Better get practicing that humility mate, your grace is fading, or is this modern Catholicism.

    Somehow I don’t think if I wrote to the Pope I would get such a nice letter back.

  • Daniel Moroney

    Gay Pride is an attempt to encourage LGBT tolerance in the UK. It is only necessary because a significant minority of people, yourselves including, discriminate against LGBT people for their sexuality. The event is not highly ‘political’ or ‘controversial’, only your hideously outdated rhetoric makes it so. I personally believe that Tesco does have liability to serve and respect the views of the public, despite being a private organisation. However, it is unfair to say that Gay Pride is a private event that does not belong in the public realm, given the fact it is a charity that relies on public help.

  • Leo Roberts

    As the Catholic father of a gay daughter can I just say that this article both annoys and saddens me in equal measure. if this is genuinely what Catholicism is going to concern itself with then I am glad it is in such decline in this country. I pray to the God who loves EVERYONE that you will be forgiven your bigotry and petty-mindedness.

  • Tiddles the Cat

    You have a twisted and dangerous definition of what it is to be a ‘true’ Christian.

    Turning the other cheek, being accepting etc. etc. does not mean that we should be bullied, intimidated, pushed around and have our beliefs walked over and be grossly insulted at your sordid Gay Pride events!

    Perhaps I should buy you a tin of polish for your brass neck. We fostering bigotry and hatred? Do us a favour!

    Your lot have fostered more bigotry and hatred against us Christians of late than anyone else. You are not tolerant or understanding of us.

    Muslims and other cultures are not so accepting of LGBT yet you do not set out to mock and blaspheme Allah or Mohammed on your garish floats. Why? I think you know why, chum!

    If you want to know what the Roman Catholic Church REALLY teaches about LGBT, then take the trouble to read the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church instead of the cr&p your contemporaries wash your brain with.

    As for Tesco, well done them! I stopped shopping there long before this reared its head. It does not mean to say I’ll be parting with my hard-earned cash there anytime now.

  • Tiddles the Cat

    We Christians are not afraid. Not afraid at all.

  • Tiddles the Cat


  • Dxisy

    This article is disgusting. We are all equal.

  • Tiddles the Cat


    Gay-bashing bigotry? Grow. Up.

    Terrified? Us? No. We’ve faced more adversity than you’ve had …. no, let’s not go there!

  • Tiddles the Cat

    The Danes have no laws against bestiality, either. I only found that out recently.

  • Tiddles the Cat

    Oh, pur-lease! It is mostly Roman Catholic charities out there in the world nursing, rehabilitating and helping AIDS victims, the poor, the unfortunate, the hungry and diseased etc. etc.

    The Roman Catholic Church is the second largest provider of healthcare in the world.

    We do things quietly.

    Oh, by the way, any chance of Tesco sponsoring CAFOD’s Family Fast Day? Or Aid To The Church In Need where many of our brothers and sisters are persecuted, imprisoned, murdered or forced to go underground in intolerant countries because of our faith?

    Hark! I’ve seen a flock of pigs flying overhead…

  • Tiddles the Cat

    Yes. That is what our faith teaches.

    FACT - the sin of Sodom one of the sins crying out to God for vengeance.

  • Tiddles the Cat

    Oh, and I suppose didn’t conduct their surveys at the church gate…  but chose to go amongst those who know rack-all about Church teaching.

  • Tiddles the Cat

    Why? Have you?

    I wondered where that ferret got to… NOT!

  • Tiddles the Cat

    The NSS is the respectable name for Catholic Bashers Unanimous.

  • Tiddles the Cat

    Hello, there! I am a practising Roman Catholic who is against contraception not only because it is against Church teaching but messing with delicate hormones, destroying marriages and encouraging promiscuity is not a good lifestyle choice.

  • Laura

    You make me sick.

  • Laura

    It’s not very respectful, holy, fair or open-minded of you to say all this.I have many LGBT friends and they are just as equal as anyone else, They have a right to be happy, loved and have a family just as everyone else does. And the reality is, they’ll probably keep sponsoring, but not publicly, to keep idiots like yourselves from causing such a stupidly big fuss over other people’s happiness. I’m 20 years old and know more about the world than you do you disgusting waste of oxygen.

  • richard

    So any corporate support for a neighborhood festival – say Irish, or Indian, or Chinese, would be wrong?  There go the fireworks for Chinese New Year.  I guess Tesco should not support any Christmas event.  Those who try to twist Christ and his loving teachings into the bigotry that they have against gays do not know Christ, and seem not to have much ability to think.  By the way, any of the bigots posting against gays must first acknowledge whether they have ever had pre-marital relations, used birth control, or been divorced.  If so, they have much to answer for as catholics or strictly observant Christians, and should not be judging others until they clean up and atone for their own sins.

  • richard

    Because Muslims in Britain and most other Western countries, unlike the catholic church and those bigots commenting here, have not successfully usurped civil authority by substituting their religion for the law of the land.  Muslims may not have much use for Britain’s catholics either, but instead of ranting about Islam, catholic bigots commenting here seem obsessed with gay people.  Something seems psychologically wrong with these bigots’ fixated on the sexuality of others.  Also, there’s the issue of rank hypocrisy – I haven’t heard much about Muslim clerics in Britain sexually abusing innocent children and then going to great lengths to cover up those crimes while preaching how everyone else – except their clergy – must behave.