Rainbow Pride bench destroyed by vandals in ‘homophobic attack’, says H from Steps

Cowbridge Pride bench

A rainbow bench which was installed by a local council as a permanent reminder of the success of a Pride event has been destroyed by vandals.  

Cowbridge Pride was founded by Steps star Ian H Watkins in 2022 in collaboration with the Welsh government to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community in Cowbridge and the Vale of Glamorgan. 

To commemorate the success of Cowbridge’s inaugural Pride event, the Vale of Glamorgan Council permanently installed a rainbow bench in the town. 

However, ahead of this year’s Pride, which will take place in June, the bench has been desecrated by vandals. 

Images shared by Cowbridge Pride with PinkNews show the bench’s rainbow arches scrubbed off, leaving it in a sorry, near-colourless state.

This is not the first time Cowbridge Pride has been subject to anti-LGBTQ+ hate, as in 2022 the town hall was vandalised with the words “F**k Pride!” written across the door in permanent pen. 

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‌In response to the vandalism, Steps star Watkins told PinkNews: “Absolutely gutted that our new Pride bench has been defaced by vandals. 

“I take this as a homophobic attack. This bench was a symbol of inclusion, kindness and diversity in Cowbridge. People ask why we need Pride. This is exactly why.”

Watkins added: “This is a passion project and we have done so much good already. I want my children to grow up in an all inclusive world. I’ve decided to be the change I want to see.”

Taking to social media, the star shared a video of himself in front of the now-damaged bench with his 117,000 followers. 

He said he feels “really quite upset” about the vandalism as the bench is more than an object, it is a “symbol” of “love and inclusion”. 

“Our town is beautiful,” he continued. “I love Cowbridge. I have no idea why somebody would do this. 

“It makes me realise that hatred still exists and the fight must go on.” 

Other famous faces were quick to offer supportive comments to the Steps bandmate. 

Tracey Beaker star Dani Harmer wrote “Hate will NEVER win!! Sending love 💜 🌈 💜”, while makeup artist and judge of BBC’s Glow Up Dominic Skinner responded with: “Sending you all the love and support ❤️.”

Cowbridge Pride runs from 19 to 25 June 2023 and features events such as a performance by RuPaul’s Drag Race UK icon Baga Chipz, Rainbow Discos and a parade.

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