Met Police accused of ‘siding’ with far-right group over anti-drag protests

A person holds up a sign reading 'Trans joy will outlive you all' in support of the LGBTQ+ community and a drag event at the Honor Oak Pub as the individual stands in front of a Met Police officer

The Met Police have been accused of “siding” with far-right group Turning Point UK (TPUK) during protests against drag events at the Honor Oak Pub in south-east London. 

An official complaint against the Met has been sent by the Lewisham branch of the National Education Union (NEU) over the behaviour of police officers during a demonstration organised by TPUK – an offshoot of an American far-right group – against a family-friendly drag event with That Girl at the Honor Oak Pub.

LGBTQ+ advocates and allies have vastly outnumbered far-right activists at several anti-drag protests outside the venue.

Hundreds of queer activists chanted that the anti-drag protestors were “not welcome here” at a demonstration on 25 March. On 29 April, demonstrators arrived with more messages of LGBTQ+ solidarity and even played George Michael songs to drown out the rhetoric from the TPUK group. 

There was a heavy police presence dividing the groups at each of the demonstrations.  

The Lewisham National Education Union sent an official complaint to the Met’s borough commander after police moved the group from outside a primary school opposite the Honor Oak pub in April, but the police then allowed TPUK supporters to gather there.

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The complaint accused the police of “siding” with the hateful anti-drag protestors, the Guardian reported. 

“The police surrounded our small group and seemed to become aggressive with a lot of pushing,” the complaint alleged. “One of our members has reported to me that a police officer put his hands around her neck.”

Ada Cable, a local woman who was at the protest, told the Guardian that teachers “came out to stand near the school” so “fascists” couldn’t climb the fences of the school and leave “banners and placards on the fence”.  

“An officer came around and said the teachers were a risk to public order standing next to the school,” Cable said. 

“Police threatened to drag the teachers away, and I saw officers punching and kicking people. I’ve got bruises on my shins from their kicks.”

People hold up signs in support of the LGBTQ+ community and a drag event in front of a Met Police officer in London
A woman, who was at the protest, alleged that Met officers ‘threatened to drag’ teachers away from standing in front of a school across from Honor Oak Pub. (Getty)

An unnamed Lewisham councillor alleged that police were slow to interview when TPUK supporters acted aggressively towards LGBTQ+ advocates at the demonstration.

They claimed “several officers” were “seen pushing crowds back aggressively” and that there were “reports of serious injuries, including a cracked rib”. 

Members of the anti-racism group Stand Up to Racism joined the LGBTQ+ supportive crowd outside the Honor Oak Pub. 

Stand Up to Racism tweeted Sunday (7 May) that the group offered “solidarity with all who have protested against far-right [TPUK] and stood with LGBT+ community at the Honor Oak pub and elsewhere”. 

In a follow-up tweet, the group shared a clip of the huge Met Police presence outside the pub when the “community came out to oppose far-right Turning Point UK and their fascist friends” targeting the drag event. 

“One anti-fascist received a broken rib, more info to come,” the group wrote. 

Despite TPUK’s position as a far-right group spreading anti-LGBTQ+ rhetoric, prime minister Rishi Sunak refused to condemn the group during a Prime Minister’s Questions session in April. 

Lewisham MP Vicky Foxcroft asked Sunak to speak out against TPUK’s “attempts to spread hatred and division”, but the prime minister said he was “not aware” of the issues Foxcroft mentioned. 

“In general, we should treat everybody with respect and understanding,” he added. “People should be allowed to associate freely within the bounds of the law.”

PinkNews has reached out to the Metropolitan Police for comment.