A TORRENT of homophobic abuse forced volunteers to close down a Warwickshire Pride stall at Stratford Market.
Volunteers from the charity, which supports the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transexual (LGBT) community, were offering advice and guidance at the Rother Street 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 and a meeting has been arranged with the force.
The first person to approach the stall told a volunteer it 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.
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.”
Stratford MP Nadhim Zahawi has pledged his support 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 www.reporthatenow.com to anonymously report them to police or the Equality and Inclusion Partnership.
Visit www.warwickshirepride.co.uk for more about the charity and upcoming events.