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Belfast Pride banned this woman from carrying an anti-DUP sign

Meka Beresford August 7, 2017
Belfast Pride

Belfast Pride

PinkNews Exclusive
Belfast Pride officials banned a woman from carrying an anti-DUP sign at the parade this weekend.

Eleanor Evans was at the LGBT+ event when an official told her she could either throw away her “f*ck the DUP” sign or she would not be allowed to continue marching in the Pride procession.

Eleanor's anti-DUP sign
The anti-DUP sign that was confiscated from Evans (Photo provided to PinkNews by Eleanor Evans)

The official also allegedly shoved the 24-year-old after “ripping” the sign out of her hands.

Evans, who is from Southend in Essex but lives in Belfast, went to Pride with her friends and they all made signs to carry at the march.

Speaking to PinkNews, Evans explained that she was about half way through the parade route when the Belfast Pride official confronted her.

“I had walked past plenty of police who were at the parade and no problems from then with anything. About half way around one of the Pride officials comes running towards me with such a strange sense of urgency as if I was holding a gun or something.”

Related: Gay Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar challenged the DUP by attending Belfast Pride

Evans, who identifies as bisexual, said that until that point she had received nothing but a positive response to her sign. However, the official began to shout as he rushed towards her.

“He (the official) sort of shouted something at me but I’m not really sure what he’s saying because he was so urgent and it was really confusing.

“He started saying ‘you can’t have that sign, you can’t have it’. And I was sort of like ‘why? what’s going on?’

“He was like either put the sign down or get out of the parade. Then he just ripped the sign out of my hand and shoves me,” Evans added.

Evans, whose sister is transgender, explained that she asked if she could have her sign back but the official “just shoved me then walked off”.

“Everyone was pretty shocked,” Evans said. “Another official was being a bit stand offish with them (her friend group) as well.

“It was just very overly aggressive and it was quite a sparse part of the parade as well. Their sense of urgency was really inappropriate.”

She continued in the Parade without her sign and found an information point in order to report what happened.

The official at the point apologised but said that she would have to email them for official action to be taken.

She said that they were “having a great time laughing, smiling. We weren’t causing any trouble at all” and that the whole situation “really killed my buzz”.

“Pride started as a protest and if you can’t carry a sign like that peacefully through Pride then I don’t understand what they think that event is for,” Evans said.

Related: A DUP politician publicly resigned his membership of the National Trust because of the organisation’s support for LGBT+ rights

Evans, who works for a charity, explained that the “LGBT+ community is very close to my heart” which is why she marched in Pride.

She added that she marched in London Pride with Transpire, a trans support network in Southend, and carried a similar sign without issue.

Belfast Pride Festival has since investigated Evans claims that she was shoved and said that they do not believe that she was shoved “based on fact”. They also failed to offer Evans a formal apology.

In a statement to PinkNews, Belfast Pride chair Seán Ó Néill said thet they are “confident that there is not basis to the alleged ‘assault’ and that we can robustly defend Belfast Pride against any such allegation”.

Ó Néill stressed that the parade was regulated by the Parades Commission and confirmed that her sign was confiscated because they “felt it breached the Parades Commission’s guidelines”.

“We are true to the roots of Pride but we cannot ignore the legal context that parades operate in here and neither can anyone who takes part in the parade. During Belfast Pride this year, we did ‘Demand Change’ on behalf of every group under the Pride umbrella, we believe that we worked on on inclusive basis to represent all groups and run the best event that we could deliver for all of us,” Ó Néill added.

PinkNews has contacted Parades Commission for clarity on whether a “f*ck the DUP” sign would be banned according to their policy.

The Parade Commission’s code of conduct states that participants in any parade held in Northern Ireland must “behave with due regard for the rights, traditions and feelings of others in the vicinity” and “refrain from using words or behaviour which could reasonably be perceived as being intentionally sectarian, provocative”.

The code also states that stewards of any parades must “be properly trained” which stipulates being “fully aware of their responsibilities and role”.

More: belfast pride, censor, DUP, LGBT, Northern Ireland, Pride

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