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East London Pride

Readers will remember that an ‘East End Pride’ event was cancelled earlier this year after EDL involvement was identified.  Today a march organised by East London Pride will take place – the route will begin in Hackney, go through Tower Hamlets and end in Bethnal Green. Peter Tatchell supports the march, but also has some reservations:

I wish leading Muslim organisations – like the Muslim Council of Britain and the East London Mosque – had been invited to speak at the post-march festival. Since they’ve declared their opposition to homophobia, they should be invited. If these organisations and the Muslim Mayor of Tower Hamlets attended, it would send a strong, positive signal locally. Their involvement would be a powerful statement against both homophobia and anti-Muslim prejudice. It would build bridges.

Jack Gilbert, one of the organisers, takes issue with Tatchell’s stance:

“Why would we invite the Muslim Council of Britain to an east London Pride festival? This isn’t a conference or a seminar, this is Pride.

“Earlier this year we held a groundbreaking conference with faith speakers. Peter was invited but didn’t show up on the day. We are having an intense dialogue with the London Muslim Centre about homophobic preachers.”

Despite the absence of such Muslim groups – and it is unclear whether Lutfur Rahman plans to attend – it’s worth noting that the only listed supporter of the march with a religious affiliation is the Muslim LBGT group Imaan.

Both Gilbert and Tatchell seem to make fair points.  This commenter on a recent Socialist Unity thread doesn’t.

Tatchell is now talking about organising a LGBT Pride march through Tower Hamlets. This must be prevented. It would confuse the issues and be a magnet for EDL types who we already know from the East.End Pride fiasco exist within the gay community.

Neither (on this occasion) do I agree with Quiet Riot Girl, who wrote to Peter Tatchell:

Your plan for the demo is also very prescriptive/proscriptive: no union Jacks, no EDL members. If you are organising an event that could be appropriated by overt racist organisations, does that not give you pause for thought about the motives and values behind the demo itself? If you have to actually tell those people not to turn up?

If anything it’s because of – not despite – this potential for contamination that the march needs to go ahead.  EDL involvement has already caused one march to be postponed – and the postponement seemed the right decision – but if nothing is done to demonstrate that no area should be a gay free zone, then that apparent indifference may make people turn to the EDL out of frustration. And as Workers’ Liberty puts it.

The left and LGBT movement should be confronting homophobia wherever it exists, even within communities also facing racist attacks from the far-right.

We have a special duty to support LGBT activists within minority communities; LGBT politics should never be sidelined.

Update: The march seems to have been peaceful and rather small. Lutfur Rahman addressed the marchers.  According to ‘redcablesunday’ on Twitter he kissed the drag queen host too.