London’s East End Pride should be cancelled, gay campaigners say
Next month’s East End Gay Pride should be cancelled because it will cause “community tension”, it has been claimed.
Some local gay campaigners say the march, in east London, will cause tensions between gay people and Muslims.
But opponents say it is an “emotional reaction” which “risks antagonising and scapegoating” Muslims.
They have also accused organisers of having “close links” to the English Defence League because some have Facebook friends who appear to be involved in the far-right group.
Read the letter here
The organisers have expressly barred political groups such as Unite Against Fascism, the English Defence League and the Socialist Workers Party from having a visible presence in the march.
Although the parade has been backed by local police and Tower Hamlets council, some local campaigners are calling for it to be cancelled.
An open letter signed by Out East chair Thierry Schaffauser and Terry Stewart of the Hackney Community Engagement Board claims that the Pride march may “divide our communities” or be used “to oppress other marginalised groups”.
Out East organises Hackney Pride and the letter has also been signed by Denis Fernando of Unite Against Fascism and the Greater London Association of Trade Union Councils.
It says: “We believe that the most appropriate response to the stickers is to liaise with Muslim communities and others to create bridges and communicate with each other.
“We want both homophobia and Islamophobia addressed as a collective problem and not feed one against the other, we do not recognise these as distinct categories.
“We will refuse any attempt to divide our communities or take the risk that an LGBTQ event is used to oppress other marginalised groups, in particular LGBTQ Muslims who will be the most affected by this rising antagonism.”
In response, the organisers of East End Gay Pride said in a statement: “We can 100 per cent confirm that the EDL [English Defence League] or the SWP [Socialist Workers Party] have absolutely nothing to do with this event in any way, shape or form.
“This is wholly a non-political demonstration and purely a high visibility demonstration of the East End gay community. This is not an anti-Muslim march. This is not an anti-anything march. We have stated this over and over again, here and on our website. We simply want to say: ‘Hang on. You’re wrong. The East End is NOT a gay-free zone’.”
East End Pride has also received support from the organisers of Pride London.
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In an opinion for PinkNews.co.uk today, chair Paul Birrell wrote: “The organisers of the event should be applauded for this fun and timely reminder of the East End’s LGBT community, not showered with abuse for simply wanting to show, well, a bit of Pride.
“The idea that being out and proud is somehow an assault on someone else’s views is used time and again by hostile governments to ban Pride.
“That some within London’s own LGBT community should use this argument – in what looks suspiciously like a case of sour grapes at not having thought of the idea first – is a source of shame.”
It has been suggested that the anti-gay stickers, which warn gay people to “fear Allah”, have been posted by the English Defence League to stir up tension between LGBT and Muslims.
PinkNews.co.uk reported on Friday that an Asian man had been arrested and released without charge after being found with the stickers in his possession.
Last month, the Muslim Council of Britain and the East London Mosque condemned the homophobic stickers.