East End Pride organiser resigns after English Defence League past is revealed
One of the organisers of East London Gay Pride resigned today after it was revealed that he had been involved with the English Defence League.
Raymond Berry helped found the far-right group and remains involved in groups including Stop the Islamification of Europe, it was claimed.
Pride London, which had supported the event, released a statement this afternoon saying it had been “misled” by him.
According to gay Muslim group Imaan, Mr Berry, a transport worker, fell out with officials at the Rail and Maritime Trades Union (RMT) last September over his political affiliations.
Imaan said it had seen correspondence in which Mr Berry declared he had helped found the EDL but was no longer involved with the group because of a dispute over leadership.
But Mr Berry allegedly said that he continued to hold firm beliefs against Sharia law and the “Islamification of Britain” and was involved in other anti-Muslim groups.
Mr Berry was one of six organisers of East End Gay Pride, which was organised as a response to anti-gay stickers posted around the borough.
Some gay rights campaigners in the area had called for the march to be cancelled, claiming that it would inflame tensions between gay people and Muslims.
The parade’s organisers had barred all political groups, including the EDL. Mr Berry had not mentioned his involvement in the EDL or similar groups to the media.
Mr Berry announced on Facebook this afternoon that he was resigning from the event. He did not acknowledge Imaan’s claims.
Shortly afterwards, the other organisers released a statement saying they had accepted his resignation.
The statement said: “It has come to light that Raymond has previously had dealings with the English Defence League, however he has assured us that he is no longer any part of the EDL group.
“[Mr Berry] stated that he has previously attended march’s [sic] organised by the EDL and UAF [Unite Against Fascism], however he found both organisations too extreme for his beliefs. None of this information was previously disclosed to the rest of the East End Gay Pride team, until it came to light late yesterday evening.
“The remaining members of the East End Gay Pride would like to state for the record that we do not support or condone anything that the EDL stand for.”
The statement said they would continue organising the event.
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Imaan says it will publish a “dossier” of evidence on Thursday which shows that other East End Pride organisers have “right wing and fascistic associations”.
In a statement this afternoon, Pride London said it would still support East End Pride, but had asked for Mr Berry to resign.
A spokesman said: “We have evidently been misled. Pride London remains committed to assisting any such event, and while we continue to accept that Raymond was not fronting the event for the EDL, and that the EDL remains unlinked to the event itself, we believe that his continued involvement would be inflammatory.
“East End Gay Pride asked our assistance to steward the event to ensure that the event remained only a pro-gay and not an anti-anything event.
“We believe that the bulk of the organisation remains solid in that commitment to Pride being a positive concept only. The event itself is not a front for the EDL, and the EDL remains unlinked to the event – it is just one member that has past links with the organisation.”
Mr Berry has not responded to PinkNews.co.uk’s requests for comment.