Gay groups and Latinos are uniting to fight plans for a statue of former mayor Pete Wilson to be erected in San Diego’s downtown Horton Square.

The former mayor, who is credited with revitalising the downtown area in the 1970’s, is despised by immigrant groups for his attempts to deny illegal immigrants health and education benefits and by the gay community for his regressive views on sexuality.

“During Mayor Wilson’s administration, it was like the dark ages for us,” gay activist Nicole Murray-Ramirez told NBC San Diego.

“He created an atmosphere of intolerance within a city that now thrives within its diversity.”

The city council faced vociferous opposition to the plans during a public comment session at City Hall last month but it has little room to manoeuvre.

The statue is being funded by a not-for-profit group called Horton Walk of Fame and being placed on private property.

The $200,000 (£100,000) life-size bronze sculpture is set to be unveiled on Saturday afternoon, with Wilson planning to attend.

He will be met by a large contingent of anti-racist and gay rights activists, with the police force hurriedly organising dozens of officers to maintain order at the event.

Enrique Morones, founder of Border Angels, told the City Council: “Pete Wilson, to us and to many, represents the worst of the American spirit.”

Wilson went on to become Governor of California from 1991 to 1999.