London

East End Gay Pride cancelled over EDL claims

London Gay Pride March. 5th July 2008
Image caption The East End Gay Pride event was due to be held in Tower Hamlets, east London

A gay pride march in east London has been cancelled following allegations that one of its organisers had links with the English Defence League (EDL).

The march was planned for 2 April but cancelled after organiser Raymond Berry was alleged to have links to the EDL.

Mr Berry was unavailable for comment but it has been reported he no longer has links to the far-right group.

The march was organised in response to homophobic stickers that had been put up in the Tower Hamlets area.

Stickers warning "arise and warn. Gay free zone. Verily Allah is severe in punishment" appeared near to Tower Hamlets gay pubs and outside a school in Whitechapel, in east London last month.

'Divided' community

The Metropolitan Police said it was working with Tower Hamlets council and the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender community to investigate who was behind the stickers.

Organisers said the gay pride event had been cancelled because of a "personal vendetta" by local gay campaigners.

David Byatt, one of the events organisers, said: "It is with deep regret that the East End Gay Pride team have collectively decided to cancel the march.

"The Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender community of east London should be working together to combat hatred of any nature."

He said he found it "shocking" that other gay organisations had "continuously set out to divide the community".

Gay campaigner and co-founder of OutRage Peter Tatchell said he feared the march would "be exploited and hijacked by the far right to create divisions and stir up intolerance against Muslim people".

Rainbow Hamlets' spokesman Jack Gilbert said: "The cancellation is great news.

"We're sure there will be a Pride event in London this year that will be inclusive of all communities."

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