Activists last week delivered a significant victory against attempts to divide the Muslim and LGBT communities in Tower Hamlets, east London.
The organisers of an LGBT pride march that had links to right wing groups had to cancel the event after pressure from campaigners.
Raymond Berry, along with three other people, organised the march under the banner “East End Gay Pride” following the appearance of homophobic stickers in the area.
Berry is a far-right activist with links to the racist English Defence League (EDL) and other Islamophobic organisations.
Local campaigners from Out East, Rainbow Hamlets, Imaan, Unite Against Fascism (UAF) and Love Music Hate Homophobia raised concerns about the involvement of the EDL.
EDL supporters were allowed to join the event’s Facebook group and Berry said that the group supported the march. Material then emerged from the RMT rail workers’ union confirming Berry’s racist links.
In correspondence with the union last year about his membership, Berry refers to himself as one of the “original founding members” of the EDL.
He claimed that he had left the organisation but had not changed his views.
“I wish to point out at this point that I still hold my firm beliefs with regard to Sharia Law and the continued Islamification of Britain,” he wrote. “I am still an active member of such organisations like Stop the Islamification Of Europe and No Sharia in Britain.”
Berry resigned from the march’s organising group when this information was made public. A few hours later a statement appeared on the event website saying it was cancelled.
Stopping attempts by racists to use such a serious issue to divide communities is a victory. But the EDL and Islamophobes are not going away.
Some EDL members are calling for a meet up and a march to go ahead, although the pub they planned to gather in has refused to allow them entry.
LGBT activists—supported by the East London mosque, the mayor of Tower Hamlets and UAF—rightly want to stand up to homophobia.
A march with racists at its core would not have helped the battle against bigotry.
David Cameron’s recent attack on multiculturalism and the rise of Islamophobia makes the drive to unity to beat prejudice even more important.
The next step in Tower Hamlets is the organisation of a genuine LGBT Pride march that will oppose homophobia and seek to create genuine unity against all bigotry.