AN ANTI-discrimination charity based in Rugby is ‘horrified’ after a torrent of homophobic abuse forced volunteers to close down a stall at Stratford Market.
The Equality and Inclusion Partnership (EQuIP) is calling for greater awareness of the impact of hate crime after its partners Warwickshire Pride were on the receiving end of over 100 instances of hate bullying and abuse at its lesbian, gay, bisexual and transexual (LGBT) awareness stand on Saturday (March 10).
EQuIP chief executive Junaid Hussain said he was horrified such activity took place in a public place.
He said: “It is extremely sad that Warwickshire Pride suffered such abuse on what should have been a safe, pleasant family day out at the market in Stratford.
“I am meeting with police to get an action plan together on how we support our communities to tackle such hate crimes and hate incidents.
“Homophobic abuse is a crime and no-one should have to suffer from it.”
A joint statement condemning the abuse was issued by market operators LSD Promotions and Stratford district and town councils.
They added: “We would like to show our support by inviting Warwickshire Pride to return to Stratford Market to promote their work and would look to provide security to ensure they feel safe and protected.”
Warwickshire Police also reiterated its zero-tolerance policy on hate crime.
Ch Insp Lee Kemp said: “Hate crime of any kind is completely unacceptable, and we will conduct a full investigation into these incidents. Please come forward and let us know if you witnessed anything that might contribute to our investigation – even the smallest detail could play a vital part.
“Tackling hate crime is, and will remain, a priority for Warwickshire Police. We are committed to ensuring all victims have the confidence to come forward and report any incidents to us, knowing they will be taken seriously and supported throughout.”
A Warwickshire Pride spokesperson said: “Although what happened has been deeply upsetting and distressing, we are more determined to ensure that LGBT people in Stratford feel safe and able to be who they are.
“This kind of thing should not be happening anywhere in 2018 and it highlights why Pride events are still needed.”
The charity is calling on the LGBT community and its supporters to join an equality rally in Stratford over the Shakespeare Birthday Celebrations weekend on Saturday April 21.
EQuIP, launched in October in place of the Warwickshire Race Equality Partnership, works with Warwickshire Police and other partners in running the Report Hate Now website.