Phyll Opoku-Gyimah has declined an MBE in the
Queen's New Year Honours List, exclusively telling DIVA she wanted
to stand by her "principles and values".
Almost 1200 people were honoured in last week's
lists, which recognise the achievements and service of people
across the UK. This year, well known faces including Blur's Damon
Albarn, Barbara Windsor and James Nesbitt were all
Opoku-Gyimah, founder of UK Black Pride, Rainbow List judge and Stonewall trustee, said
that while she was "honoured and grateful" for the recognition, she
felt it was important to say "no thank you".
She told DIVA: "As a trade unionist, a working class
girl, and an out black African lesbian, I want to stand by my
principles and values.
"If you're a member of a minority - or multiple
minorities - it's important to be visible as a role model for
others [and] for your successes to be seen.
"An honour is a very public
statement that the establishment has decided that you, and what you
do, are valued by the wider society. You've worked hard, and
they've actually noticed. Maybe you've fought for workers' rights,
or LGBTQI rights, in defiance of those in power, and yet here they
are, offering you an award, letting you in. It may help you raise
the profile of future work you do. All of these are good reasons
for accepting one, and yet, Member of the British
She went on: "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.
"I'm honoured and grateful, but I
have to say no thank you."
Elsewhere, Tim Sigsworth from LGBT homeless charity
the Albert Kennedy Trust was made an MBE, while
LGBT Consortium's Paul Roberts was awarded an OBE for his services
to the LGBT community.
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