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No thanks: UK Black Pride founder declines MBE from Queen

THANKS BUT NO THANKS: Phyll Opoku-Gyimah

THE FOUNDER of UK Black Pride has turned down an MBE from the Queen's 2016 New Year’s Honours List in protest of the persecution of LGBTQI people in the Commonwealth.

Phyll Opoku-Gyimah said that she could not accept the award so long as "LGBTQI people are still being persecuted, tortured and even killed" across the world by laws put in place by the British Empire.

Opoku-Gyimah, who is also known as Lady Phyll, co-founded UK Black Pride in 2005. The organisation is dedicated to the celebration of black LGBT culture in the UK, putting on an annual Pride event and running networking and social events through the year.

The British-Ghanaian and a trustee of Stonewall, a British LGBTI rights advocacy group told the magazine she would not be accepting the title on the basis of her "principles and values".

She told Diva magazine: “As a trade unionist, a working class girl, and an out black African lesbian, I want to stand by my principles and values.”

“I’m honoured and grateful, but I have to say no thank you,” she said. “I don’t believe in empire. I don’t believe in, and actively resist, colonialism and its toxic and enduring legacy in the Commonwealth, where — among many other injustices — LGBTQI people are still being persecuted, tortured and even killed because of sodomy laws, including in Ghana, where I am from, that were put in place by British imperialists.”

Opoku-Gyimah joins poet Benjamin Zephaniah who famously rejected the offer of an OBE in 2003 because he claimed it stood for colonial brutality, slavery and white supremacy.

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