Calls for East London to react to homophobic incidents

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Following a series of homophobic incidents in the East End, gay rights activist Peter Tatchell is calling for a show of solidarity by residents.

In early 2011, stickers were placed on Brick Lane, Poplar, Bow and Canary Wharf, showing a red line through the rainbow flag with the words “gay-free zone”.

They said: “Arise and warn. Gay free zone. Verily Allah is severe in punishment.” At least 70 were reported.

Mohammed Hasnath, 18, of Leamouth, Tower Hamlets, pleaded guilty to the offence and was fined £100 plus £85 costs and a £15 victim surcharge.

When told the allegation against him of a public order offence of using threatening or abusive words or behaviour between 11-14 February, Hasnath reportedly said: “But I just put up stickers, I didn’t harass or swear at anybody or anything.”

In 2008, a young gay man was left paralysed from the waist down after being attacked by youths on his way to a venue in the Shoreditch area.

He said: “These gay-bashing attacks coincide with a dramatic decline in the number of gay venues in East London and some LGBT people moving out of the area because they feel it is no longer safe to live there.”

“The response of the LGBT community to this homophobia has been feeble. There has been no visible protest and no public affirmation that East London is not, and will never be, a gay-
free zone.

“Many LGBT people want to protest against homophobia in East London. They feel frustrated, angry and let down that no effective protest has taken place.”

Read Mr Tatchell’s open letter here.