East London Gay Pride March Canceled for Fears of Stirring Conflict with Muslim Community

UPDATE: The march has been canceled.

Activists are protesting the announcement of an East End Gay Pride march in London because of concerns that it could increase tension with the area's Muslim community, and because its organizer has been accused of having ties to a far-right anti-Islamist group:

Gayfreezone "The march, to be held on April 2nd, has been organised by six friends as a response to anti-gay stickers plastered around the East End. But opponents say it is an 'emotional reaction' which 'risks antagonising and scapegoating' Muslims. They have also accused organisers of having 'close links' to the English Defence League because some have Facebook friends who appear to be involved in the far-right group."

The stickers, which were plastered around East London in early February, declared the area a "gay-free zone".

OutRage activist Peter Tatchell released a statement saying the group opposed the march:

"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 (EDL). I have also withdrawn my personal support.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 inter-sex (LGBTI) 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. Muslim organisations and speakers should be invited to participate in the rescheduled East London Pride."


  1. says

    I like the idea of postponing, rather than cancelling, the march. This is why we have pride parades, remember? I hate the idea of letting fundamentalist religionists of any persuasion prevent us from celebrating our identity and demanding equal treatment under the civil law. If there are moderate Muslim representatives who would be willing to participate, so much the better (given that the parade would be through a Muslim neighborhood). It’s important to at least offer the religious community a chance to participate, even if the offer is declined. And it’s also important to distance one’s self from any sort of ultra-nationalist right wing freak show. But this will only require a mild postponing and better planning, rather than a wholesale cancellation.

  2. C says

    “If there are moderate Muslim representatives who would be willing to participate, so much the better.” I agree, but in reality, it’s not going to happen.

    It’s pathetic that this is even an issue in one of the largest, most gay-friendly cities in the world. Having lived in London for a year, I know parts of the East End are like another world – it’s basically like being in the Middle East.

    If anyone in the East End has a problem with this, they should go back to whatever shithole country they came from.

  3. Francis says

    The way I see it, I can understand outreach with these Muslim communities and trying to get our message across and to be on the same page and have consensual support for one another. With that said, we CAN NOT continue to appease religious bigotry any longer. We need to stand up against it and call a spade a spade. And if the mediation efforts do not take, than you should go on your own business knowing who has your back, and who doesn’t. Outright discrimination is wrong, but so is validating homophobia.

  4. ratbastard says

    F*ck this sh*t. Gays better learn to stop acting like such p*ssies. Out-reach? C’mon…who’s kidding who? I’ll say it again: Radical ‘Progressives’ have a seriously flawed ideology when it comes to s*cking up to some other so-called oppressed ‘Minorities’. All us ‘Oppressed’ so-called minorities aren’t one big happy respectful family. Never have been, never will be.

  5. JeffNYC says

    “If there are moderate Muslim representatives who would be willing to participate, so much the better (given that the parade would be through a Muslim neighborhood).”

    Yes, of course, but are there?

  6. Myackie says

    why is everyone so afraid of offending moslems…but nobody is ever afraid of offending gay people?

    Oh that’s right…it’s because one of these groups will kill you if you offend them.

  7. Rowan says

    Rat, the thing is these guys don’t target all the Christian hate. At all. Like nada. Zilch. Rien. Nothing. Why?

    There is a HUGE Nazi community in the gay scene in the UK. It’s a funny one because some of these guys go out with black guys. It’s an attitude thing.

    I don’t know, it is really complex, lots of articles about it.

    Thing is though a lot of these gay groups are really to the left, so they won’t even HEAR anything about Islam homophobia and I wonder what they are doing anyhow?

    Islam is really spreading in the cities especially going after the black communities-recruiting young lack men who have been so out down by society-and get them to join them and become radical BUT what are they doing to help the black communities? Nothing.

    It’s like the Christians who target the blacks. Easy pickings-a bunch of people who are forever last because they are black and you can manipulate them to join your flock but are you helping their communities to get jobs? Self esteem? Come together? No.

    All of these groups are users.

    I don’t have an issue with Islam, as if you’ve read any of it, it’s not what this hate is about but have issue with Muslims like I do with Christians.

    At least the Jews stick to themselves.

    The blacks were made into slaves by the Arabs AND the Europeans.

    It’s a pity this was hijacked by ELD because there is a HUGE Muslim issue in UK cities with attacking minorities-Blacks, young white girls to groom and gay people.

    Yeah, yeah you can say all you want but I see this everyday.

    Just google…

  8. jamal49 says

    How convenient! Alleged ties to a right-wing, anti-muslim group and voila! No march. Can’t offend those delicate muslim sensibilities now, can we? Everybody punk’d out on this one. The stickers, however, remain. So, I guess muslim homophobes get a free pass on this one.

  9. says

    Like Rowan said, there are a lot of issues going on with this (now canceled) parade and a lot of these issues transcend the parade itself. I live in the East End and I’m not even going to pretend to say I “know it” because there’s no real way to understand (read: please) everyone and everything. From what I can tell, the stickers were put up by a limited number of individuals who feel threatened by a greater number of gays and lesbians living in or around their community. It doesn’t make it right- those stickers are still horribly offensive- but it didn’t happen in a void either. I personally don’t feel threatened or harassed in my community, by anyone or anything, and I think Peter Tatchell’s remarks about not wanting to offend or persecute the local community are valid and appropriate. The only way things will change is if the local community- which includes all types of people, from all types of belief systems- initiates a helpful dialogue, of which a gay pride parade can be a valuable component of. If the local community stands together against bigotry, like that espoused by the stickers, that’s a far greater “win” than securing a momentary parade at the expense of others. The far right connection claims seem dubious to me but I’d rather see a parade canceled (to be mounted another day, no doubt) if it’s going to be hurtful rather than helpful to my community.

  10. Lexxvs says

    And so began the beginning of the end. I hope they do it later with calmed intentions and broader support. I’m all for peace and tolerance. I have nothing against the (brainwashed) people but all against a religion (in this case is Islam, but can be any other one) whose tenets condemn LGTB to death (or prison or seclusion etc.).
    Tolerating (religious) fascism is not tolerance: is self destruction. Sooner or later, we will see it first hand. Muslims –as they are today- will never, ever admit homosexuality, and they will do every effort to impose their views on the western world where they accidentally happen to dwell rather than upgrading their “perfect and unbeatable and given by Allah morals” to the western ideals.

  11. Rowan says

    Adric, I’m hoping to move into the east of london by the end of the year. I love the place-my friends are there, it is creative, cultural and has some of the best alternative nights in London.

    I just hope we sort this out because I’ll admit I was angry that Muslims were starting to do this, as they KNOW brick lane and whitechapel is so creative and alternative.

    I remember that fashion kid who got gay bashed and is now in a wheelchair after a hate crime in whitecapel.

    This has to be the beginning of something new. Now.Gays and creatives have brought up the prices in east London BIG TIME, you know that.

    We need respect.

  12. miami says

    There is a lot of homosexuality in the Middle – Near East. Everybody in these communities knows it. This is really just an attempt to divide the left in East London and allow the unfriendly Tories to rule using the vote in the weatlhy areas. For Islam these questions are difficult and dealt with in different ways be different Islamic nations. However, this was a clear attempt to create conflict and hatred amongst natural allies.

  13. Feinstein has a hairy cooter says

    As a queer atheist, if given a choice to stand with idiotic racist faggots and with queer Muslims, I stand with queer Muslims.


    DIENSTAG, 15. MÄRZ 2011
    Safra Project statement on East End Gay Pride

    The Safra Project has been working on issues affecting Queer Muslims for over a decade. This work includes making the areas in which we live safer for all. Our approach in doing this work seeks to avoid adding to the alienation and further deprivation faced by many in our communities because of ethnic, cultural, class or other material factors.

    As many of us are residents and members of East End communities we are also dismayed by the homophobic sticker campaign and what we view as the subversion of our Muslim beliefs to instil fear and mistrust amongst communities. This is echoed by further members of the local Muslim community such as the East London Mosque and the Association of British Muslims.

    We are similarly opposed to the ‘East End Gay Pride’ march as a response to the sticker campaign which we believe only compounds the problem, particularly for us as Muslims that are Queer, as it fuels what has now become a virulently Islamophobic climate for us to live in. Unfortunately, the claim by the East End Gay Pride march organisers that they are not being anti-Muslim is insufficient to stop their effective complicity in fuelling the various stereotyped ideas about Muslims. It also undermines the important work that our organisation and others are involved in around issues of gender, sexuality and Islam (www.safraproject.org/sgi-intro.htm).

    Moreover, we are particularly concerned that the march organisers’ have refused to disassociate themselves from the far-right organisation English Defence League (EDL) especially as it seems that anti-fascist supporters have been told they will not be welcome at the march. This not only disregards the history of embedded racism that our communities have suffered in the area and more generally but also, as Queer Muslims, we feel that there are more productive ways to address the concerns that the East End Gay Pride march organisers have raised. For example by getting involved with the important cross-community projects that are ongoing in East London (http://www.onesocietymanycultures.org).

    Therefore, we, as Queer Muslims who are most likely to suffer the fall out of this march, ask:
    •The organisers to cancel this march on all of our communities, neighbours and families in East London.
    •The local Queer people in the East End of London to engage with the wider local community in collaboration to better understand and work productively on all forms of prejudice.
    •For everyone to voice their opposition to overt and covert racism and Islamophobia especially in the name of gay rights. All forms of prejudice must be understood in their overlapping ways and to ignore this lived reality, particularly that of Queer Muslims, is to avoid engaging with underlying issues of social, economic and political injustice and disadvantage (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/jun/02/gay-lesbian-islamophobia).

    If the march continues it does so without the support of our organisation and with little regard for the complex work that we as Queer Muslims do in Britain.

    Safra Project Board

    An open letter to East End Gay Pride by Onni
    Mayor of Tower Hamlets and community leaders come together to condemn homophobia


  14. Gregg A. Gold says

    What do you expect? The West is filling up with immigrants from countries where gay rights are non-existent. They don’t leave their prejudices behind, but export them here. Remember in 2010 when Toronto mayoral candidate, George Smitherman was defeated? The Muslims ran a negative poster campaign while the Tamils put out negative, anti-gay radio commercials. I didn’t see any outraged gays demonstrating outside the local mosque or any Tamil place of worship.

    Immigrant votes are beginning to increase, and it doesn’t look good for gay rights.

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