The first Polar Pride
Today (18 November) marks the first Polar Pride – a celebration of the contribution of LGBTQ+ people in the overseas territories including British Antarctic Territory and South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands (SGSSI). The declaration demonstrates a commitment to support and enhance Diversity in Polar Science.
Rainbow flags will be flown in both Territories, at the headquarters of British Antarctic Survey (the UK polar operator) and special events will be held globally throughout the day. Celebratory photos and stories will be posted on social media using the hashtag #PolarPride.
18 November is International day of LGBTQ+ people in STEM for 2020 and it is hoped that #PolarPride will become an offshoot of this since the Territories are such a strong focus for science, technology, engineering and maths.
November marks the start of summer in BAT and SGSSI, where same-sex marriages are offered in both Territories.
As part of a series of activities and initiatives to mark the 200th anniversary of the discovery of Antarctica, the Diversity in UK Polar Science initiative, conceived and funded by the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office Polar Regions Department, celebrates existing diversity, and takes an important step forward to promote and enhance Antarctic science opportunities to under-represented groups, including women, people from ethnic minorities, BAME, LGBTQ+ community and people with a disability.
Minister for Polar Regions, Baroness Sugg says:
“PolarPride is an opportunity for those working in the British Antarctic Territory and South Georgia & the South Sandwich Islands to celebrate diversity and show their support for LGBTQ+ colleagues. I also hope colleagues in the UK will get involved, to make everyone feel included to play their role in understanding and protecting the amazing Polar Regions”
Dr Huw Griffiths, a bio-geographer at British Antarctic Survey and a member of the LGBTQ+ community, says:
“This announcement feels like a huge step forward and a visible symbol of inclusion and support for the LGBTQI+ community working in BAS, SGSSI and in international polar research.
“I’m personally very excited to see how many nations are getting involved and preparing to share their photos and stories to unite the LGBTQ+ community.
“We started Pride in Polar Research two years ago when an early career researcher reached out seeking solutions to the isolation and discrimination they faced. At the time these issues weren’t openly talked about in the scientific community. This announcement shows the important progress we are making towards greater inclusivity.”
The GBAT, GSGSSI, the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office and the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) are proud to support the #DiversityinPolarScience initiative – a ground-breaking project that celebrates existing diversity in UK Polar Science and aims to deliver a more inclusive future for all.
The FCO and GBAT have also supported the funding of badges with the Pride in Polar Research logo.