Network Rail has unveiled a new ‘Pride Pillar’ in one of the country’s busiest stations, featuring an array of Pride flags intended to promote gender identity as well as polyamory, demisexuality, and queer allyship.
According to a Network Rail press release, the “art installation” was created to celebrate LGBT+ history month, with the aim of “educating people about LGBT+ flags and communities”.
Shane Andrews (MBE), chair of Network Rail’s LGBT+ inclusion network (of whom more later) said: “We hope that those who view the pillar will take away with them not only the history and knowledge of the flags and communities but whoever they are and identify, know they are not alone and will find courage to live their life in a more tolerant and informed society.”
Critics of the exhibit, installed at London Bridge station, say the publicly owned railway company has broken its own “no political posters” rule.
In 2020, an advertising poster at Edinburgh’s main railway station that read “I love JK Rowling” was removed by Network Rail for being too “political” and potentially offensive.
The part-publicly funded railway network operator later confirmed that the digital advertisement had been taken down because it breached its policy by promoting a political viewpoint. “The poster in question is against our code of acceptance for advertising in our stations owing to its political nature,” a spokesperson said, adding: “We do not allow advertising that is likely to support or promote one viewpoint over another.”
Campaign group Sex Matters has now written to both the CEO and Chair of Network Rail about the company’s apparent double standard when applying its rule around political advertisements.
Citing the company’s previously rigid enforcement of this policy, the letter points out that “the flags now on display at London Bridge belong to a political movement that is not simply about non-discrimination, but is about imposing the belief that gender identity replaces sex on everyone”.
“It views those who disagree (those who hold ‘gender critical’ views) as fair game for intimidation, harassment, and discrimination),” the letter continues. “This display of political flags is intimidating to anyone who disagrees with this movement.”
Responding to criticism of the Pride Pillar on X, formerly Twitter, Shane Andrews stated that he had “No time for TERFs,” before adding, apparently without any self-awareness, that “Everyone matters”.
Mr Andrews was being nothing if not candid in stating he had no time for ‘TERFs’. As various eagle-eyed X users have since pointed out, he appears to have little time for a number of others, including those he refers to as “bitches”, “bloody bimbos”, “sluts” (with particular reference to “skanky Irish sluts”), and “snobby cows”.
As another X user has pointed out, since the Pride Pillar’s launch, Network Rail’s station manager at London Bridge, Cem Davis, has been kept busy deleting a number of perfectly reasonable posts to the company’s LinkedIn profile from customers – women, in particular – asking questions about the installation, and offering polite feedback.