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Following threats by Leicester’s small but vocal branch of the National Front and other neonazis (including Clive Potter of the British National Party) of violent disruptions at Leicester’s first Pride March, Leicester City Council posted discrete warnings at the entrance to Abbey Park where the march terminated: though they did not advertise the event (which attracted marchers from Nottingham, London, and elsewhere) in the “Out and About” section of their web site.
Undeterred by the threats of violence and of heavy showers, Leicester’s L/G/B/T community turned out to put on a loud, colourful, proud, defiant, and jubilant display for the local townspeople.
The high-profile march route went along the high street and through the pedestrianised precinct, where Saturday shoppers and shop staff all stopped to watch the procession. Curiously, the entrance to one indoor shopping mall was closed: so that shoppers and police inside had to peer out through the grille.
The march was led by the Unity Against Prejudice banner, which was followed by the Soft Bang Bando samba band: three local groups who had combined for the day, and who stalwartly kept up marchers’ spirits and a stirring rhythm throughout the march.
In contrast to Pride marches in recent years in London, the Leicester march was very much a political event: as was underlined by several skirmishes with neonazi trouble-makers. Police arrested a couple of these before the march reached the town centre: though after a search released them without charge.
The local group Leicester Lesbian & Gay Action handed out leaflets on the subject of Monday’s House of Lords vote against repealing Section 28, including contact details for local MP’s.
Clive Potter, a union official employed at Leicester Royal Infirmary, has been suspended by Unison from his role as shop steward, pending an investigation by the union’s National Executive Committee into his “alleged involvement in far-right politics”. The BNP describe Potter as “an unassuming and caring person”.
BBC Radio London Live (formerly GLR) is the main sponsor of Buju Banton’s performance at the Festival of Peace and Love in London today, Sunday, 23rd July, 2000.
The festival at Three Mills Island in east London, being held to celebrate Jamaican culture and the life of reggae legend Bob Marley, includes a set by Banton.
Banton is notorious for, in 1992, writing and performing Boom Bye Bye glorifies the shooting of gay men, urging people to get a gun and blow out the brains of a “batty boy”, (pejorative Jamaican slang for homosexual). Subsequently he has said that gays should be treated like discarded tyres and burned.
The furore that arose in both this country and in the USA forced him to apologise on the Channel 4 programme The Word on 4th December, 1992: but not before massive cancellations of TV and other appearances on both sides of the Atlantic hit hard.
An interview published on the 29th May, 2000 in New Nation, a newspaper serving members of the black community, includes a reiteration by Banton of his homophobic views and a denial that he had ever recanted or changed these views.
In consequence of the intervention of OutRage!, of Black Gays and Lesbians Against Media Homophobia, of Eurogay internet magazine, and of our approach to Jenny Abramsky (Director, BBC Radio), the Editor of London Live immediately stopped promotion of the festival on his station and obtained assurances from the Festival’s PR people that ‘Boom Bye Bye’ would not be part of Banton’s set. Banton’s own PR people, however, were not so forthcoming and give rise to concern that he may be planning to use the his mantra of hate at other venues, in the UK or elsewhere.
OutRage! and Black Gays and Lesbians Against Media Homophobia are working with Gay and Lesbian Alliance against Defamation, (GLAAD), in the USA where Banton is planning a tour to promote his recent album Unchained Spirit. .
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Pictures of this year’s L/G/B/T Pride March in London.