Homophobic comments led volunteers to close down a LGBT information stall at Stratford on Avon’s Rother Street Market after only three hours.
Volunteers from the charity Warwickshire Pride, which supports the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transexual (LGBT) community, were offering advice and guidance at the market on Saturday.
But they were forced to pack up early after suffering more than 100 cases of verbal abuse, which was reported to police. A further meeting has now been arranged with the police to see how best to ensure the stall can reopen.
Daniel Browne, a member of Warwickshire Pride, set up an information stall at Stratford-upon-Avon market on Saturday.
He said he was told an LGBT+ stall had “no place in Stratford”.
A number of abusive of comments and profanity followed, including passers-by – all reportedly adults – shouting ‘that’s disgusting’ and ‘I don’t want to see that’.
Another person said they had nothing against LGBT people because it was an ‘illness’ that could not be helped.
After about three hours Mr Browne closed the stall due to the extent of the verbal and behavioural abuse.
A Warwickshire Pride spokesperson said: ‘Although what happened 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 those people 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.
‘This kind of thing should not be happening anywhere in 2018 and it highlights why Pride events are still needed.’
Conservative MP for Stratford, Nadhim Zahawi has pledged his support for the group on social media
He tweeted: ‘This is outrageous and should never happen anywhere.
‘Important that this abuse is never tolerated. I will work with you and Warwickshire Police to make sure perpetrators are found and bought to justice.’
The charity is also rallying support from Stratford District Council and Stratford Town Trust – which sponsored the stall – and is calling on the LGBT community and its supporters to join an equality rally in Stratford on April 21.
Anyone who has experienced or witnessed hate crime can visit http://www.reporthatenow.com to anonymously report them to police or the Equality and Inclusion Partnership. Visit http://www.warwickshirepride.co.uk for more about the charity and upcoming events.Tags: homophobia information stall LGBT Rother Street Market Stratford on Avon Warwickshire Pride