East End gay campaigners respond to hate campaign

Police are still investigating

Following the recent spate of homophobic hate stickers found across East London, including Shoreditch and Stoke Newington, a group has organised a march through the streets of East London on Saturday 2nd April.

A newly formed group called East End Gay Pride (EEGP) want to respond and take a stance against homophobia in East London.

“We want to send a message that this is actually a very gay-friendly area. We’re here, we’re queer, so get used to it,” said Raymond Berry one of the march organisers.  These stickers declaring a ‘gay free zone’ are outrageous and insulting”.

The poster’s carry the message:  “Arise and Warn. Gay free zone. Verily Allah is severe in punishment”.

But some are criticising EEGP’s effort to combat homophobia in East London.  Out East the group that organised last summers Hackney Pride Parade released a statement.

“As a result of the recent homophobic stickers that appeared in Shoreditch, Stoke Newington and broader East London, you have decided to organise a Pride March event on the 2nd April. Out East, with other local LGBTQ community groups, has great concerns about this demonstration and we have decided neither to participate in the event nor to call our supporters to be part of it, and we think it important to express the reasons why.

“Firstly, it is not clear who is behind the stickers and the police are still investigating that issue. However, what is clear is that the message of the stickers identifies Islam as the cause for this hate. There have been allegations that it is an attempt from far right groups to stigmatise Muslim people. Whether this is true or not, what will remain in people’s minds is that Muslim people as a whole group are the cause for homophobia. It may not be the intention of East End Gay Pride to endorse this message but having a short term response and an emotional reaction to these stickers risks antagonising and scapegoating Muslim communities.

“Out East refuses that LGBTQ rights or pride demonstrations are used to promote islamophobia even if not intentionally. Furthermore the council, the mayor, the East London Mosque and the interfaith community worked with local LGBTQ people to take a stand against homophobia and support the police. Neither yourselves or the majority of the media have highlighted this approach, leaving the wrong impression that the east end is actually in danger of becoming a ‘gay-free zone’.

“Secondly, we have serious concerns about the close links that this event and some of its organisers have with the English Defence League.  This ranges from one organiser stating they are supporting the event on the Facebook group, to inviting Facebook members with EDL logos as their profiles to participate, and some organisers having EDL friends on their profiles*.   This has been further compounded by the fact that East End Gay Pride has banned anti-fascist group UAF from attending the event. In addition to this, East End Gay Pride organisers have made it clear that they don’t want the event to be political. ” Read complete statement here

The planned start off point will be King Edward VII Memorial Park in Glamis Road, and will end up in Poplar Recreational Park in Woodstock Terrace. along. Walking along The Highway and Commercial Road before ending at Poplar Recreational Park. They also plan to walk through streets were posters were left.  Meeting time is 12 noon.

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