Group fears ‘undesirable gays’ at Olympics event

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A Clapham residents’ group lodged an objection to the gay Pride House event at this year’s Olympics saying it is “highly likely” to become a “magnet for undesirable elements of the gay community”.

The Friends of Clapham Common opposed plans for the green space to host the LGBT event because it coincided with Pride London and would be used “exclusively” by gay, bi and trans people for two and a half weeks.

The group denies the objection was homophobic, saying all communities have “undesirable elements”.

Former Mayor of Lambeth Christopher Wellbelove today called the objection “incredibly offensive”.

The claims were part of a Lambeth Council consultation on Pride House, which will include live music, entertainment, LGBT art, sports and tournaments.

Creator Chad Molleken said it would “welcome athletes, dignitaries, media, Londoners and visitors from around the world with a dynamic and entertaining programme in support of the LGBT community”.

20,000 people are expected to attend Pride House during the Olympics. Stephen Fry and Peter Tatchell are among the patrons of the event.

The Friends also objected to the use of the common for Pride House because it would not “raise a decent income for Lambeth since much of it will be for charitable purposes benefitting the LGBT causes”.

In the consultation document, Lambeth Council responds to the Friends’ objection saying the event will be open to all, and adds: “Lambeth has a very diverse cultural community. The Council welcomes the important cultural, economic and social contribution the LGBT makes to the wellbeing of the borough.”

Christopher Wellbelove, now a Labour councillor, told “The idea that this event is only for the LGBT community is clearly ridiculous, LGBT events are regularly attended by a wide spectrum of our community.

“Reference to ‘undesirables’ is incredibly offensive and exposes the real motivation for this objection. This is a huge opportunity for Clapham and Lambeth to participate in London 2012, showing their support Team GB during the games together with LGBT athletes from around the world.

“The event will also be a stance against homophobia such as the very unfortunate comments in the objections by the Friends which I would be surprised if it was truly representative of the Friends as a whole.

“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and will be seen by people around the globe demonstrating London (and Clapham) as a diverse community and promote inclusion and diversity which their comments only demonstrate the need for such an event.”

The Friends of Clapham Common had not responded to requests for comment by at the time of publication, but Chairwoman Melanie Oxley told the South London Press: “We have absolutely nothing to hide and are emphatically not homophobes.

“Our objections are based on the scale and length of the event.

“There are undesirable elements in any community.

“We fear greatly that numbers will get out of hand and the availability of alcohol for such a long duration will simply fuel an impossible situation for the police and the event organisers.”