Gay Pride split over march through East End

The Gay community appears split over next month’s planned Gay pride march through London’s East End.

Rail workers expect 1,000 supporters from all section s of the community to join their march from Shadwell’s King Edward Memorial Park along The Highway, Commercial Road and East India Dock Road to a rally in Poplar Park on April 2.

It follows a wave of ‘hate’ stickers declaring a ‘gay free’ zone found plastered on walls and lamp-posts last month.

But Out East—the umbrella organisation representing gay, lesbian and transvestite groups across East London—has condemned the march because of alleged links with the English Defence League.

It fears the Far Right is using the march as a cover to set the gay and Muslim communities against each other.

Out East co-ordinator Terry Stewart told the Advertiser: “We are against EDL involvement—not against a gay pride march.

“The EDL are extremely homophobic and are hiding behind the event. Their members are taking part to ferment tension in East End, trying to set the Islamic and gay communities against each other.

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“They will then walk away and we’re left to clean up the mess.”

The organisation has sent out an open letter to the organisers and to the police and Tower Hamlets council urging the march be stopped.

It states: “We have decided neither to participate nor call our supporters to be part of the gay pride march.

“It is not clear who is behind the ‘hate’ stickers. What is clear is that the message identifies Islam as the cause.

“Having an emotional reaction risks antagonising Muslims and making them scapegoats.”

But march organisers Mark Bourne and Raymond Berry are determined to go ahead on April 2.

Mark declared: “We are making a point that the Gay community is still being targeted by hate. A lot of people feel isolated—this will boost their morale.”

But Out East is angry that Unite Against Fascism is being banned from taking part in the march because it is a political group. It believes response to homophobia “must include all political groups working against discrimination” which they say automatically excludes the Far Right.

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