A STALL manned by Warwickshire Pride group was forced to close early on Saturday after volunteers received a tirade of offensive and homophobic abuse.
Members of the group, representing the local LGBT+ community packed up after just three hours at the Rother Street market following constant intimidating comments from the public and reported it to Warwickshire Police. Warwickshire police are currently treating the incidents as hate crime.
A statement from the group said: “Over 100 people walked past the stall or approached it subjecting the volunteers with abusive behaviour by either tutting, giving looks of disgust or making comments such as “that’s disgusting”, “I don’t wanna see that,” and other abusive homophobic comments.
“One person also approached the stall to say that he had nothing against LGBT+ people because it’s an illness that people can’t help catching.”
Warwickshire Pride organisers say the offenders were all adults, and that it’s unclear whether they were from Stratford or were visiting from elsewhere.
The Warwickshire Pride statement said: “Whether they are local people or not, this kind of thing should not be happening anywhere in 2018 and it highlights why Pride events are still needed.”
But the group has also said the abusive comments and behaviour won’t’ deter them from continuing to work for the LGBT+ people in Stratford.
The Warwickshire Pride statement said: “If anything, we are more determined to ensure that LGBT+ people in Stratford feel safe. For years, LGBT+ people in Stratford 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.”
Warwickshire Pride officials have also reported the incidents to the Equality and Inclusion Partnership (EQuIP) who support victims of hate crimes.
The stall was held by the group to promote their charity as a fundraiser.
For the full story and reaction see the Thursday edition of the Stratford Herald.