Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell has withdrawn his support for next month’s East End Gay Pride and is calling for it to be postponed.
Yesterday, one of the organisers of the march, Raymond Berry, resigned after it was revealed that he is a former member of the English Defence League.
Mr Tatchell said: “OutRage! is not supporting East London Gay Pride, following the revelation of links between some of the organisers and the right-wing English Defence League. I have also withdrawn my personal support.
“We fear the march will be exploited and hijacked by the far right to create divisions and stir up intolerance against Muslim people.”
He added: “While defending the right of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people to protest against homophobia and the ‘Gay Free Zone’ stickers, it would be best if the march was postponed until a later date and organised by a broad-based grassroots and community coalition, untainted by associations with the EDL.”
Mr Tatchell said that Muslim organisations and speakers should be invited to participate in the rescheduled Pride, although he said that the East London Mosque should “bear some responsibility for previously stoking homophobia” by inviting anti-gay speakers.
The march, due to be held in April 2nd, is now in crisis. It was organised as a response to anti-gay stickers posted in the area, which claimed that gay people should “fear Allah”.
But local gay campaigners claimed it would stir up tension between gay people and Muslims. They also objected to the fact that the April 2nd march had explicitly banned all political groups, including Unite Against Fascism.
Gay Muslim group Imaan, which revealed Mr Berry’s connections to the EDL, claims it has more evidence to show that other organisers of the parade also have “right wing and fascistic associations”.
In an email to PinkNews.co.uk, Mark Bourne, one of the organisers, said that none had any dealings with the EDL.
He added: “What some people see as ‘fascistic’, some people see as patriotic and that patriotism should be applauded.”
Pride London had supported the march but said yesterday it had been “misled” by Mr Berry, who had not declared his past support for the controversial group.
A spokesman said Pride London remained “committed to assisting any such event” without Mr Berry.