Cornish police accused of homophobia at Pride

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Cornwall’s first Gay Pride event earned rave reviews from those who attended, despite complaints of police harassment.

Following a unanimous vote by Cornwall Pride’s steering committee for police to not be involved in the event, a committee member was promptly arrested and detained for 16 hours before being released without charge.

The arrest comes as gay activists in Cornwall persist in calling on local forces to address the homophobia in their ranks.

Cornish authorities and institutions are widely accused of ignoring gay problems in the county, and homophobic incidents generally go unreported.

A member of the steering group said:

“There remains a serious problem in Cornwall regarding continuing negative homophobic attitudes within the authorities of Cornwall and in particular, Cornwall police attitudes towards members of the gay community.

“Cornwall police have grave difficulty accepting homosexuality was decriminalised 40 years ago and gay people ‘theoretically’ now have equality in law, even in a gay backwater like Cornwall.”

Otherwise, the event was celebrated by organisers as a great success.

Sunny weather and a beach setting ensured spirits remained high throughout the day, with a spokesperson for the event saying: “We are delighted. It was everything we had envisaged, planned and hoped it would be.”

Volleyball, tanning and swimming were high on the agenda, but serious networking and a growing solidarity were noticeable among the sand and speedos.

As a non-commercial, non-sponsored event, many of the participants enthusiastically described the day as a return to the roots of Gay Pride.

The picnic was located by a large rainbow flag wedged into the sand.

The flag had originally laid on the coffin of Andrew Roger Smith, who died of AIDS in 1996. He and his partner Malcolm Lidbury fought local discrimination and prejudice against HIV/AIDS sufferers before his death.

Mr Lidbury said: “Andy would have loved the gay beach picnic and he was certainly there in spirit.”