March 15, 2011
Organiser of East End Pride resigns over EDL background
An organiser has stepped down from the event after his involvement with the English Defence League was revealed.
A new group, East End Gay Pride, has been formed to counteract the homophobic stickers posted in London in February. They intend to march on 2 April in a pro-gay march, rather than an anti-Muslim one. However, Raymond Berry, one of six organisers, has today resigned his role in the project. It has transpired that he was an early member of the far-right group, the English Defence League, and remains active within groups such as Stop the Islamification of Europe.
As the intentions of the march were peaceful and aimed to promote community cohesion, organisers had barred all political groups from attending. Berry neglected to mention his involvement with the EDL to his fellow organisers and today announced on Facebook that he was resigning from the event. He did not refer to the claims put forward by gay Muslim group, Imaan, which alleged that he was no longer involved with the EDL due to a dispute over leadership. Imaan also suggested that Berry had argued with officials at the Rail and Maritime Union last year due to his political affiliations.
The other organisers accepted Berry’s resignation and issued a statement explaining that he had previously attended marches organised by both the EDL and Unite Against Fascism, but found both groups too extreme for his beliefs. They added, “The remaining members of the East End Gay Pride would like to state for the record that we do not support or condone anything that the EDL stand for.”
A spokesman for Pride London, who are supporting the event, said, “We have evidently been misled. Pride London remains committed to assisting any such event, and while we continue to accept that Raymond was not fronting the event for the EDL, and that the EDL remains unlinked to the event itself, we believe that his continued involvement would be inflammatory.”
In recent days there have been calls for the march to be cancelled amid fears that it will create further tension between the gay and Muslim communities in the area. Part of this concern was apparently related to potential links with the English Defence League.
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