East End Gay Pride organiser resigns over EDL affiliation

Last years Hackney Pride Parade. Photo:www.sosogay.org click photo to enlarge

Raymond Berry lead organiser of East End Gay Pride (EEGP) resigned yesterday after he could no longer deny his  English Defence League affiliation.

Following homophobic posters showing up in the East End, the group was formed by a group of friends and promptly began organising a march set for next month, to combat homophobia and to respond to what they claimed was an Islamic led hate campaign.

The professionally produced stickers read: “Arise and Warn. Gay free zone. Verily Allah is severe in punishment” and were concentrated in Whitechapel, Shoreditch, Mile End, Poplar and even Stoke Newington near schools and pubs.

The statement of resignation signed by the remaining organisers said:

The team here at East End Gay Pride would like to announce that they have accepted the resignation of Raymond Berry from the EEGP team.

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. He also stated that he has previously attended march’s organised by the EDL and UAF, 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 team here at East End Gay Pride are going to carry on with organising East End Gay Pride without Raymond and working with the community to try and end ALL homophobia and prejudice within our community. We are all working with our supporting organisations, including Pride London, to make this event as inclusive and pro-active in combating hate crime of any form.

We would like to draw a line under this and work towards making East End Gay Pride a safe, fun and positive march.

Mark Bourne, David Byatt, Caroline Todd, Alan Jones.

The East End Gay Pride Team.

Many observers had long suspected an EDL influence from the beginning, something Berry, a transport worker from East London and the group denied. But it began to be apparent when the group first welcomed EDL support of the march, with several members of the EDL and ‘less progressive groups’ began joining East End Gay Pride Facebook group page and voicing their opinions.

According to Muslim GLBT group Imaan,  Mr Berry fell out with officials at the Rail and Maritime Trades Union (RMT) last September over his political affiliations  to the English Defense League, and claims they have seen correspondence in which he states he was a founding member, although he  is no longer a member following a dispute over leadership. They also allege Berry still holds strong views against Sharia law, “Islamification of Britain” and is involved with various anti-Muslim groups.

Amongst the individuals and groups who feel the EEGP planned march is divisive, is  Out East, who organised last summers successful Hackney Pride Day.  Last week they released an open letter to East End Gay Pride.

Photo: www.sosogay.org

It also appears more groups are distancing themselves from East End Gay Pride and withdrawing their support. These include the following, who have issued statements (click to read):

UEL LGBT Society

SAFRA PROJECT

Bent Bars

Rainbow Hamlet

Imaan

Haringey LGBT Network

Outrage

The event was originally backed by local police, Tower Hamlets Council with Equality campaigner,  Peter Tatchell giving his approval.  It is not sure what their position is today.

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