It has come to our attention that the current leader of CLEAR (Cannabis Law Reform), Peter Reynolds, has in recent weeks come under fire for his allegedly homophobic, racist and sexist blogposts.
Drug prohibition affects us all. Yet discriminatory practices in policing, healthcare and wider society mean that young people and minorities are often disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs. Students for Sensible Drug Policy UK has long enjoyed good relationships with BME people, young people, disabled people, LGBT people and women based on solidarity and friendship, and we hope this situation will continue.
We feel that BME people, young people, disabled people, LGBT people and women are and should be actively involved at every level of our organisation and the wider movement, and as such we cannot risk this alienating commentary to go unchallenged. We unreservedly condemn racism, ableism, sexism and homophobia, particularly from within our own movement.
On the formation of the Cannabis Law Reform party, SSDP UK welcomed endeavours to re-engage the cannabis community with grassroots drug law reform activism, and what we have witnessed overall was largely very positive. Recently, however, we have been greatly disappointed by the reported inappropriate, unprofessional and discriminatory behaviours of a few individuals. We believe that public figures have a responsibility to the movement when they chose to make their private views known in public forums - and they should not be unprepared to be criticized where these are offensive to the vast majority of activists, or descend into petty ad hominem attacks on individuals. We believe that all activists within our movement should behave in an appropriate manner, and condemn any attacks on individuals' private lives.
SSDP UK feels that the mismanagement of this issue by CLEAR is potentially damaging for the wider movement's credibility and reputation. It is for this reason alone the Board has refrained from making this statement or its concerns public to date.
We do not wish to interfere in the running of other organisations, but as the executive board of SSDP UK we have a responsibility to our members to ensure that our movement is a safe space for them to organise. As such, we feel that the actions of the CLEAR leader has made a working relationship untenable and we cannot allow SSDP UK to be associated with CLEAR until we feel that their leadership demonstrates it understands the seriousness and problematic nature of recent events, and takes appropriate steps to remedy the situation.
UPDATE: This post has been edited on 29/01/2012 to include the phrase: "We believe that all activists within our movement should behave in an appropriate manner, and condemn any attacks on individuals' private lives."