SABMiller boss calls for trade to support LGBT rights after Orlando shooting

By Nicholas Robinson

- Last updated on GMT

LAGER group boss: 'The reason why became so real to me over the weekend '
LAGER group boss: 'The reason why became so real to me over the weekend '
SABMiller's gay rights group chair has paid tribute to the victims of the homophobic attack in Orlando and urged the industry to push for equality at the beer giant's annual pre-London Pride event.

SABMiller, which will display a float at London Pride on 25 June, hosted its yearly Lesbian and Gay Everyone Respected (LAGER) meeting at the Soho Hotel in London last night (14 June), where company bosses paid tribute to the victims of the atrocious homophobic attacks in Orlando by ISIS-aligned gunman Omar Mateen.

LAGER chair Quentin Goodwin pushed the beer and pub industry in an emotional speech to be open and accepting of the sexual orientation of their employees.

He told the Publican's Morning Advertiser ​(PMA​) it was important for the international beer giant to be seen as a supporter of the LGBT community now more than ever in light of the attack in Orlando.

In his speech to attendees last night, a choked-up Goodwin said: "I wanted to reflect on what happened over the weekend and what that means for the people in this room.

"We had a market stall in the Atrium (at SABMiller's headquarters in Woking) to raise awareness about equality and someone asked me why we do this still.

"The reason why became so real to me over the weekend when 49 people were killed and 59 injured in [Orlando gay bar] Pulse… the job of equality for all isn't yet done."

More work to be done

Supporting gay rights and hosting a float, which was co-designed by project lead and LAGER member Bruce Maidment, at London Pride was showing the rest of the industry how important gay rights is to SAB Miller, he added.

"The attack [in Orlando] shows that there's a lot more work to be done on gay rights and SABMiller is showing its support for the LGBT community," he told the PMA​.

SABMiller managing director for Europe Sue Clark said more companies should embrace the diversity of their workforce and their cultural differences in such a way.

She added: "We recognise, in the beer industry, there's a lot more to do [to support the LGBT community].

"LAGER shows current and future employees that it's important for us that they can come to work and be themselves."

The company, which is to be acquired by AB InBev in a deal believed to be worth billions, started its LAGER group three-and-a-half years ago, according to SABMiller director of HR, corporate offices and global functions Ollie Roberts.

Handful of members

It had grown from a handful of members to 50 or so in that space and he hoped it would grow further in the coming years.

SABMiller's press for more industry support of LGBT people followed London Mayor Sadiq Khan's announced plans to reassess London's pub, bar and club security in light of the brutal attacks in Orlando.

Khan's worries over safety come after pubs were urged to be vigilant and to review their security arrangements​ in the wake of the Paris terror attacks in November last year.

At the time, Westminster Police asked businesses to remain vigilant after gunmen killed 129 people in a terrorist attack in the French capital.

A spokesman said: "We cannot ignore the fact that we operate in crowded places, which present soft targets.

"Please be aware and report suspicious behaviour. Ensure your security staff are compliant around entry checks, left luggage, etc. The more eyes we have on the ground, the better."

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