Main | Monday, March 14, 2011

LONDON: Cancel East End Pride?

Some British gay activists are calling for the cancellation of next month's Pride parade in London's East End because it might inflame anti-gay sentiments among the Muslim community. The parade was organized in response to "Fear Allah. Gay-free zone" stickers that began appearing around the East End earlier this year. Critics of the parade accuse its organizers of having ties to skinhead groups which were thought by some to have planted the stickers to create tension between Muslims and gays.
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.
Pink News reports that an 18-year old man was arrested last month with some of the stickers in his possession, but he was released without charges because it was unclear whether the stickers violated the Public Order Act on hate speech. The Muslim Council of Britain and local Muslim groups have denounced the stickers.

Labels: , , , ,

comments powered by Disqus