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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”.