From The East London Advertiser
The controversial East End Gay Pride march next month has been scrapped after claims that the far right English Defence League was using it as a ‘smokescreen’ to attack Muslims.
Organisers today withdrew the event after a wave of criticism which has split East London’s gay community.
They blamed the decision on personal attacks within the gay community on the man who dreamed up the march, Raymond Berry, which was in response to homophobic stickers (pictured) appearing on walls and lamp-posts declaring a ‘gay free’ zone under Allah.
He stepped down yesterday (Tues), accusing the critics of jealousy and “shameful” behaviour. “They’ve made a simple pride event something difficult and unpleasant through sour grapes and jealousy,” he said.
But pressure continued and within 24 hours organisers scuppered the march itself that was planned for April 2. Terry Stewart, coordinator of OutEast, part of Rainbow Hamlets umbrella organisation of East London gay, lesbian and other groups, claimed the EDL would use the march to drive a wedge between gays and Muslims.
But East End Gay Pride organisers accused him of “lies.” Their statement today said: “In a day and age where the gay community of East London should be working together to combat hatred, we have found it shocking that East Out and Rainbow Hamlets has set out to divide the community."
But Terry Stewart refuted allegations of lying and accused the organisers, instead, of allowing the EDL to use the “tainted” march as a smoke-screen. He told the Advertiser, “. . . we’ve stopped people masquerading under the banner of ‘homophobia’ to set communities apart. That’s why this event had to be scrapped. It was tainted with the EDL."
Regular readers will recall that my daughter spotted one of the earliest examples of these Gay Free Zone stickers in Whitechapel last year. They then spread around Tower Hamlets and into the neighbouring London Borough of Hackney, specifically Shoreditch and Stoke Newington. Even though it has been reported that men of 'asian appearance' have been seen placing the stickers on street furniture (I believe the word asian was used as there was nothing about their clothing to confirm their being Muslims, despite it being highly unlikely that they were HIndu or Jain), and an Asian men was arrested with the stickers about his person but released without charge, some people insist they are the work of 'far right' groups, as can bee seen from these comments at the Hackney Citizen last month.
The involvement of the Gay Muslim group Imaan is intriguing. Despite the penalties attached to their situation under Sharia law they remain faithful to Islam first. This is from the Hackney Hive.
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.
Further proof that our Trades Union's are no longer the friend of the working man. And this is Pink News
Mr Tatchell said: “OutRage! is not supporting East London Gay Pride, following the revelation of links between some of the organisers and the right-wing English Defence League. I have also withdrawn my personal support.
“We fear the march will be exploited and hijacked by the far right to create divisions and stir up intolerance against Muslim people. While defending the right of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people to protest against homophobia and the ‘Gay Free Zone’ stickers, it would be best if the march was postponed until a later date and organised by a broad-based grassroots and community coalition, untainted by associations with the EDL.”
Mr Tatchell said that Muslim organisations and speakers should be invited to participate in the rescheduled Pride, although he said that the East London Mosque should “bear some responsibility for previously stoking homophobia” by inviting anti-gay speakers.
With homophobic abuse now a frequent feature of London Borough of Tower Hamlets council meetings under the austices of Islamiclly controlled mayor Lutfur Rahman, when the cranes over the Spitalfields development site start to dangle gays experiencing the full force of Sharia law, maybe you will understand why Mr Berry holds "strong views against Sharia law".