Activists invade airline industry dinner stage, attended by the aviation minister, to protest deportations
Queer activist group, Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants (LGSMigrants) disrupted an airline industry dinner attended by airline executives and the UK Government’s aviation minister, Baroness Liz Sugg and British Airways CEO Alex Cruz.
Disguised as guests, the group of fourteen infiltrated the exclusive Airlines UK 2019 annual dinner and distributed 200 complementary airline sick bags to attendees, while chanting and holding banners that read ‘deportation contracts make us sick’. Four activists stormed the stage interrupting the speaker to address the crowd with a speech criticising commercial airline involvement in deportations.
The activists were escorted from the venue after completing their protest and making their message clear, attendees should feel sick to their stomachs at their complicity in deportations.
The dinner, which was held at the Park Plaza Hotel in central London, was attended by 250 senior representatives across the industry, including British Airways (BA) CEO Alex Cruz who enters into contracts with the Home Office to deport migrants.
Each year thousands of migrants are deported by the Home Office using commercial airlines. These deportations are often violent with migrants restrained as they are deported back to countries where they may face persecution and severe harm. In 2010, an Angolan passenger, Jimmy Mubenga, died on one such deportation flight carried out by BA.
Last year, after pressure from LGSMigrants and others, Virgin Atlantic cancelled their contract for deportations with the Home Office. Now LGSMigrants are calling on British Airways and other airlines to follow suit.
Sam Björn, a spokesperson for LGSMigrants, says “We invaded this dinner to show our disgust with commercial airlines like BA profiting from the Government’s brutal deportation contracts. Deportations endanger the lives and safety of migrants.”
“While the airline industry elite enjoy a luxury three-course meal, thousands of migrants are stranded in countries where they have little to no connections and are vulnerable to severe harm and potential death.”
“We call on BA and other commercial airlines to end their deportation contracts with the Home Office and take a stand against the Government’s racist hostile environment”.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
For further comments, please contact Sam Björn on firstname.lastname@example.org.
High resolution images are available to download here.
Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants are a group of queer activists who stand in solidarity with all migrants and refugees. Through fundraising and creative direct action, they fight back against the hostile environment and reject racist narratives that pit queer communities and migrants against one another. Inspired by the 1980s group Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners, made famous by the film Pride, they build on a proud history of queer solidarity to say: no one is illegal. See www.lgsmigrants.com for more information. Twitter: @lgsmigrants ; www.facebook.com/lgsmigrants
LGSMigrants made headlines in December for hacking Tube adverts to encourage people to stop deportations which also carried the BA logo.
Last year, activists from LGSMigrants and other groups made headlines by grounding a charter deportation flight from Stansted airport. The Government continues to charter planes specifically to deport groups of vulnerable migrants, but also deports individuals on commercial passenger flights.