News / 16 March, 2011

East End Gay Pride cancelled

Organisers say it is with ‘deep regret’ that they have called off the planned march

rainbow flag

The East End Gay Pride event planned for April has been cancelled organisers said in a statement released this afternoon.

The announcement follows the resignation yesterday of the main organiser, Raymond Berry, following revelations by gay Muslim group, Imaan, that Berry had links to the far-right English Defence League.

The statement, signed by remaining organisers, Mark Bourne, David Byatt, Caroline Todd and Alan Jones, blamed the cancellation on “personal attacks” and “vendetta” from local gay activists from Rainbow Hamlets and Hackney Pride organisers, OutEast.

They said: “In a day and age where the LGBT community of East London should be working together to combat hatred of any nature, we have found it shocking that OutEast and Rainbow Hamlets have continuously set out to divide the community. Internet forums have proved this to no end.”

East End Gay Pride was called last month in response to the appearance across east London, of homophobic stickers carrying Qur’anic quotes.

But local gay rights groups, including Out East, distanced themselves from East End Pride. In an open letter published Saturday, Out East accused EEGP of “stigmatising” Muslims and having links to the EDL.

Speaking to the Citizen, Terry Stewart, of Out East, welcomed the cancellation of East End Gay Pride and said the campaign against it was political not personal. He said: “We’ve worked very hard over the past two weeks to expose the organisation for what they were and who they were. And that was in the interests of the whole community.”

“This was a political decision we took as people representing the LGBT community of east London, that the community was not going to be split by a group of people coming in with another agenda which was completely against our ethos of community cohesion and communities living together.”

“We welcome any visibility of LGBT communities coming together, but we will not allow the argument of homophobia to be used to attack another community such as the Bangladeshi community in Tower Hamlets.”

East End Gay Pride had, in recent weeks, attracted support from the Pride London organisation, Time Out magazine and prominent gay rights activists.

But this morning Peter Tatchell released a statement withdrawing his support. He said: “We fear the march will be exploited and hijacked by the far right to create divisions and stir up intolerance against Muslim people. OutRage! opposes both homophobia and anti-Muslim bigotry. All forms of intolerance are wrong. The gay, Muslim, Jewish, Asian and black communities know the pain of prejudice and discrimination. We should stand together, united against hate. Let’s celebrate East London’s multicultural diversity. Don’t let bigotry divide us. Together, we can defeat the hate-mongers.”

Terry Stewart said he was ,“very disappointed” that some gay rights groups such as Outrage! and Pride London, had backed EEGP. He said, “We did say to them weeks ago that this was happening. We gave them warning but some people chose not to hear that. But I’m glad to say they’re now on board.”

Stewart also rejected accusations by EEGP organisers that Out East are doing nothing to tackle homophobia in east London. He said the cancellation of EEGP “makes no difference” to their work. He said they continue to talk to police and the council and working on plans for an event in Victoria Park in September.


East End Gay Pride organiser resigns after English Defence League link is revealed

Gay groups divided over East End Pride march

/ 16 March, 2011
  • David Byatt

    Such a shame that the reporter of this story took the time to get quotesfrom the opposition but not from anyone at East End Gay Pride.
    So much for journalism investigating both sides of a story. Only publishing one paragraph from the statement and then getting terry Stewarts biased statement.

    No mention of the illegally obtained documentation by Imann then? How did they come by private and confidential emails between a Trade Union and their membership?
    Where is the proof that anyone else had connections to the EDL?

    Why is it that we can all assume that what Terry Stewart is saying is correct but everything that the EEGP Team said was a lie?

    Terry Stewart is nothing but a cyber bully. With his own political agenda. I for one am glad we stood strong for as long as we could before they made it personal!

    I see quotes from their facebook group havent been published where they say they will continue to fight on untuili we are all destroyed.
    Maybe try a little investigative journalism in order to be unbiased. Or are you too scared to print the truth?

  • luca

    Just give up David, so the problem now is that Imaan got those documents potentially illegally? That s your argument ? Bit desperate … how can you even be friend with an EDL funder and have any self-esteem.
    The LGBT community, from OUTeast to Peter Tatchell, Imaan to many individuals in the east end have ( after a while for some…) not been blinded by the ” it s just a bif fun ” “we re not political ” rhetoric…..
    Queers should fight against all form of oppression and stigmatisation.
    Good ridance.

  • Aztec

    The statement your team has posted, David, shows that you still – despite all the discussion taking place over the last month – don’t understand why people were concerned about the event. The long and short of it is this: the gay community will not allow itself to be hijacked by EDL members or their sympathisers. Nothing in your statement addresses the fact that Berry was a founder of this racist organisation. You have been exposed for what you are, and it is mighty hypocritical of you to then suggest that the journalist writing this article is “too scared to print the truth.” Had your team been upfront about its intentions and allegiances, this accusation might fly, but as it happens you were not. You consistently showed nothing but ignorance regarding the nature of the East End community, and this Pride event was nothing more than yet another attempt to use gay rights to further Islamaphobia. There are better, more thoughtful organisers in London – leave it to them, and for the sake of us all, go and lick your wounded national pride elsewhere.

  • Neil Roberts

    David. Thanks for your comment.
    I’ve actually been trying to contact EEGP since Saturday. I had an interview arranged with Raymond Berry and then with Mark on Monday but no one would answer my calls. And then my emails went unanswered. I tried Mark again last night.
    I’ve quoted from the public statement your organisation put out, as I did yesterday with your statement on the resignation of Raymond Berry.
    Sorry if you feel I’ve been unfair to you.
    I will email you now for your comments in reply to Terry Stewart.

  • Mega Bebe

    Poor David Byatt.
    I really hope that your ‘friends’ didnt mislead you.

  • AbuKhan

    Good we don’t want these people parading in Tower Hamlets. It is unislamic.

  • Daquasdi

    I know nothing of the politics and motivations of any of the groups involved in this debacle (and given the behaviour on all sides in this little spat, I shiver at the thought that any of them purport to “speak for the gay community of east london”) but it’s clear to me that there is a need for the gay community to increase its visibility as an integral part of the wider east end community. I’ve lived and worked in Tower Hamlets for 15 years and I’ve noticed/experienced a definite increase in homophobia recently. So a Tower Hamlets pride event seems a great idea. If the EEPG event was flawed, I hope OutEast is at least working towards providing a similar event.

    I value and enjoy the visible muslim contribution to the east London community, even though I don’t like some of the extreme interpretations of Islam. In a similar way, I don’t think we should shy away from openly celebrating the gay community in Tower Hamlets just because doing so might offend some others (like AbuKhan above, apparently).

  • Mega Bebe

    OUT EAST, Tower Hamlets and Imaan do organise a pride march in Hackney every September. You probably haven’t heard about it as Pride London refuse to support it… So makes you wonder.

  • The Police National Domestic Extremism unit concluded “EDL are not far-right extremists”

    I find it fascinating how a group of people who presumably believe in the right to personal privacy (and the idea that a trade union that is there to protect its members), should have no problem with a trade union providing personal information that could put someone’s life at risk. I hope that there is going to be a police investigation, and a trial for the person who has put this man’s life in danger.

    Clearly the gay muslim group had no compunction about leading their murderous brothers to believe that the gay man they targetted was the founder of the EDL, when the history of the EDL had been gone over and over by lefties in the last couple of years.

    And now we have an obviously homophobic muslim extremist on your website (AbuKhan on March 17th, 2011 at 9:49 am: “Good we don’t want these people parading in Tower Hamlets. It is unislamic”), referring to gay people as “these people” and happy to deny them their basic human right of freedom of assembly and freedom to stage a gay rights protest. He directly contradicts the gay muslim group, when he claims that homosexuality is “unislamic” (or maybe its their basic human rights that are unislamic).

    And the muslim extremists posted his comment 48 hours ago, and there is barely a whisper of criticism from the right-on people of Hackney.

    It’s quite clear there is a hierarchy of oppression, and when it comes down to it, you will all put gay people’s rights far below those of anyone else.

    So muslim homophobia re-asserted, human rights denied.

  • woka

    You people on the left in Britain have just swallowed Shariah law hook line and sinker. What is the greater common good? That a place where gays are beat up is reminded that it belongs to Britain and that gays can walk the streets? Or that one organizer has ties to the EDL? Any plans for a future gay pride day in Tower Hamlets? I don’t think so. Gay people are dhimmis. Wake up before you’re all hung up on a noose by Shariah in Britain.


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