Town market will employ security to protect LGBT Pride stall after homophobic incidents

A market in Stratford-upon-Avon says it will employ security to protect an LGBT Pride school after were barraged with homophobic abuse over the weekend.

Organisers of Warwickshire Pride spoke out this week about homophobic abuse that had been directed at volunteers running a Pride stall at the market in Stratford-upon-Avon.

The volunteers say that the stall, which was sponsored by Stratford Town Trust, had received abuse more than 100 times in one day.

They claimed the people “tutted, gave looks of disgust or made comments such as ‘that’s disgusting’, ‘I don’t wanna see that’, and ‘for f**k’s sake, look at that’.”

Following the allegations, organisers of the market have said they will employ security to protect the Pride volunteers in future.

In a joint statement, Stratford District Council, Stratford Town Council and market operators LSD Promotions said: : “[We] are committed to creating a vibrant, inclusive and welcoming market in Stratford-upon-Avon, in which everyone is free to enjoy their market experience.

“The organisations condemn all hate crime and any hate incident should be reported to the Police on 101 or 999. Sadly, it appears that due to the intimidation felt by the volunteers manning the Warwickshire Pride stall on Saturday, no complaints were logged with the market management.

“LSD Promotions take all matters of abuse, intimidation and crime very seriously and would like to show our support by inviting Warwickshire Pride to return to Stratford-upon-Avon Market to promote their work and would look to provide security to ensure they feel safe and protected.”

The Tory MP for Stratford-on-Avon, Nadhim Zahawi, said: “This is outrageous and should never happen anywhere. Important that this abuse is never tolerated.

“I will work with [Warwickshire Pride] and Warwickshire Police to make sure perpetrators are found & brought to justice.”

In a statement, Warwickshire Pride had said: “A member of our volunteer team, who was lone working at the time, was subjected a shocking amount of anti-LGBT+ comments and behaviours from members of the public.

“Another volunteer arrived later and was then witness to the continued abuse. The first person who approached the stall shouted at our volunteer and told him that an LGBT+ stall has no place in Stratford.

Warwickshire Pride

“From then on over 100 people walked past the stall or approached it and either tutted, gave looks of disgust or made comments such as ‘that’s disgusting’, ‘I don’t wanna see that’, and ‘for f**k’s sake, look at that’.

“One person also approached the stall to say that he has nothing against LGBT+ people because it’s an illness that people can’t help catching.

“The number of incidents was counted initially but the counting stopped when the total reached 100. The incidents took place from approximately 9:00am and lasted until around 12:00pm, at which time our volunteers decided to pack up the stall and leave Stratford.”

The Pride organisers say that the abuse has been reported to Warwickshire Police.

Warwickshire Pride added: “Although what happened that day has been deeply upsetting and distressing, it has not deterred us from continuing to work for LGBT+ people in Stratford.

“If anything, we are more determined to ensure that LGBT+ people in Stratford feel safe and able to be who they are.

“For years, LGBT+ people in Stratford have told us that they do not feel safe there due to hate comments and looks they receive from people. We now fully understand why LGBT+ people in Stratford feel that way and will be doing all we can to ensure this trend does not continue.”

The campaigners will be not be giving up, however, and have planned an “equality rally” to take place in the town on April 21.

They added: “We encourage all LGBT+ people and allies to join us as we peacefully say no to hate and yes to equality in every way, as indeed these incidents show that while we have almost full equality in law there is still a long way to go until LGBT+ people are fully accepted socially.”

Warwickshire Pride itself will take place on August 18 in Leamington Spa.