500 attend East London Pride

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Five hundred people joined a Pride march through east London on Saturday.

The area has had a troubled year. In February, Muslim extremists distributed stickers warning of a gay-free zone, while a Pride march was cancelled after it was revealed that an organiser had links to the English Defence League.

The East London Mosque was accused of breaking a promise not to host anti-gay speakers.

Saturday’s event saw a march through Hackney and Tower Hamlets, followed by a festival in Bethnal Green with performers and discussions.

Tower Hamlets mayor Lutfur Rahman spoke on stage with a drag queen and told the crowd he would ensure respect for local LGBT people.

Mr Rahman said: “I grew up here, and have seen how things have changed in the last 20 years. I want you to be in no doubt I will fight to ensure there is respect for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender culture and rights in the same way I will for all communities.

“LGBT people are part of the community of Tower Hamlets, and a respected part. Together, I want to build a united communities of communities, one Tower Hamlets.

“That’s the tradition of this area, and I am personally deeply committed to it. I am pleased to be here and to support this event.”

Festival organiser Jack Gilbert said: “His words are to be welcomed, as were the discussions in the community marketplace, on LGBT Muslim experience, on the increase in homophobic crime and on LGBT-related material in schools.

“We look forward to a meeting in the near future to take these forward.”