Hundreds march in East End for Pride parade
About 500 people walked through the East End on Saturday in support of the annual Pride march.
The procession set off from Hackney Town Hall at midday and ended in Oxford House, Bethnal Green where entertainment and debates took place into the evening.
It was allowed to go ahead despite the 30-day ban on marches imposed by Home Secretary Theresa May earlier this month.
Scotland Yard had requested the ban to prevent the English Defence League from marching in Tower Hamlets and it also extended to other protests but East London Pride was not affected.
The parade came after what has been a difficult year for the gay community in east London.
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This summer 18-year-old Mohammed Hasnath was fined for plastering the East End in homophobic stickers which stated the area was a “Gay free zone”.
And figures from the Met Police show there has been a rise in homophobic crime of almost a fifth in Tower Hamlets in the last year, despite offences of that nature falling across London as a whole.
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But organisers said the march was not about protesting.
Jack Gilbert, chair of Rainbow Hamlets, said: “For most people it wasn’t a protest march or parade about the stickers, it was a parade to celebrate the fact we are part of the community and to send a message that extremists on all sides are not welcome.”
During the Oxford House event, poetry and performances and speeches took place.
Mr Gilbert added: “It was a really fun day. There was a nice range of ages and backgrounds.
Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman, who spoke at the event, said the borough’s cultural diversity makes it “unique and is something that should be celebrated”.