On Saturday, August 27, Derry’s Foyle Pride Parade was reportedly targetted by a counter-protest carried out by “hate preachers”. The group was allegedly granted permission to gather at the Guildhall by the Parades Commission, where members of the queer community and their allies were celebrating.
In a statement published on September 3, Independent Pride Derry addressed “the hatred spewed by bigots,” and criticised the alleged lack of action from Foyle Pride, Derry City and Strabane District Council and the PSNI to keep attendees safe.
“Pride is where we meet to celebrate our beautiful diversity and individuality. Pride must also be a place of safety and respect. For some, Saturday will have been their first Pride parade,” the organisation wrote.
“We are dismayed that a group of fundamentalist hate preachers were permitted space at our Guildhall. We cannot repeat what they shouted at Pride attendees as their language was so grotesquely offensive.
“While some PSNI officers danced at Pride, others were failing to address bigots shouting hatred at Pride attendees.”
Independent Pride Derry said that although it is the right of the anti-LGBTQ+ group to apply to protest with the Parades Commission, “Nobody raised an objection. Not Foyle Pride, not the PSNI, not the council.
“This was an opportunity missed to keep our community safe,” it added.
The “hate-filled” group is said to have had microphones and speakers that drowned out the Pride performers on stage as they shouted “violent homophobic rhetoric”.
“Guarded by a row of dour police officers, they shouted abuse at all those within earshot-with the only line of defence against them being the independent protestors of all ages who drowned out their bile with chants of love, acceptance, and resistance,” one attendee, Andrew Clarke, explained.
“Why are hate preachers and homophobes treated as an inevitability at Pride? Why is their presence tolerated and protected by the police? When we see time and time again that hatred is not finite and that it is reproduced through generations, why is the onus of combating it left to the individual at their own risk and not the official Pride organisers? Is Pride a Protest, or is it just a Party?” Andrew asked.
Another attendee, Dáire NicLochlainn, said that “to come home to a rural and religious village after words of bigotry and hatred condemned my existence over loudspeaker was difficult.”
Dáire continued: “That night I did cry. I was disheartened, because what triggered in me was the thought of, what am I even fighting for if this is still allowed to happen and no one stepped in. Accountability needs to be taken.”
Independent Pride Derry called upon Foyle Pride, the council and the PSNI to reflect upon the situation and “next year, take better care of our community and do their jobs.” The group also noted that “the Parades Commission are ultimately responsible for this affront in the first place and need to explain their decision”.
GCN has approached Foyle Pride for comment, but has not yet received a response.
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