Leicester Pride: A Protest Borne Out of Anti-Fascist Resistance

[To read the most recent account of the events recounted in this article as told by one of the participants and coordinators of the first Pride event, see Liz Yeates’ article “The weird, wild and forgotten history of Leicester Pride” (Huck, July 4, 2022). Earlier summaries of the first Pride have been published in SchNEWS (as “Red Leicester,” SchNEWS, May 5, 2000) and by another of the key organisers who was also a member of the Socialist Party (Darren Rushin, “Leicester beats fascist threat,” The Socialist, August 4, 2000).]

“Leicester Pride is Leicester’s annual Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) festival, held at the beginning of September each year. The event is free to attend and celebrates equality and diversity in our community.” The local web site advertising this year’s Pride goes on to point out how over the years it “has grown from a small event based in the city to a full scale festival at Victoria Park.” It also notes that every year the festival begins with “a march through the city centre in a vibrant parade”. However, for many attendees, Leicester Pride — as vibrant and fun as it is — remains an intensely political occasion for both historical as well as contemporary reasons.

Systemic forms of gender-based hatred remain all too prevalent, and so despite much progress having been made in the UK, a lot more work needs to be done to end the institutionalised nature of LGBTQ+ oppression that thrives under capitalist misrule. And while right-wing members of the ruling-class continue to take pride in perpetuating such oppression, it remains the case that some parts of the left still stuck in the stone-age when it comes to their inability to challenge certain forms of oppression like transphobia. However, for the most part trade unions and their members continue to play a positive role in actively combatting the discrimination that is inflicted, on daily basis, upon members of the LGBTQ+ community. This article therefore aims to elucidate a little more of Pride’s local political history by examining it’s founding as it was recounted in the pages of the Leicester Mercury.

Announcing Leicester’s Mardi Gras

When plans for launching Leicester Pride were initiated in 1999, it will come as little surprise to many readers that the mainstream media and mainstream political parties were frenziedly spreading vicious lies about the LGBTQ+ community, much as they continue to do so today. Although as opposed to today’s obsessive efforts to demonise members of the trans community, in 1999 the primary target for this mainstreamed hate campaign was focused upon the longstanding efforts of campaigners and trade unionists to scrap Section 28: a reactionary legal statute that had been imposed upon the UK population in the 1980s which demanded that a local authority (council) “shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality” or “promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended relationship”. This repressive statute was eventually repealed in Scotland in 2000 as a result of relentless organising efforts of ordinary people, before being belatedly scrapped in England and Wales in 2003.

This was the political context in which the first local Pride event was launched.

Either way, marking the start of local press coverage concerning the formation of Leicester Pride, on October 9, 1999, the Leicester Mercury ran a page 3 article titled “30,000 are expected at city Mardi Gras event” which announced that “Proposals include a 12-hour party, from 11am to 11pm, in one half of Abbey Park on July 29 next year.” This supportive article quoted the initial Mardi Gras manager, Vaughan Cartwright, as saying “We want people to leave their attitude at the gate and have a good time”.

But even at this early stage, fascist activists – emboldened by the rampant homophobia promoted in the mainstream media — were already taking matters into their own hands in their attempts to stop the planned event. Indeed, just over a week after the Mardi Gras announcement was made in the press a concerned member of the public (named Yvonne Dawn Gregory) had a letter printed in the Mercury (on October 19) which highlighted how “a hard core of individuals” had already published numerous homophobic letters in the newspaper with her mentioning two individuals by name, these being DM Pfieiffer and Derek Goodwin.

Fascist Homophobia in Print

DM Pfieiffer, otherwise known in full as Denise Pfieiffer, was at the time in a celibate relationship with a local fascist organiser named Clive Potter and was known as being a fanatical fan of Michael Jackson — so much so that she had spent time in an American prison in defence of her hero. The other homophobic Mercury letter writer, Derek Goodwin, would go onto become a leading member of a local fascist-led group calling itself The Silent Majority (discussed later).

However, in the tail-end of 1999 the letter writing antics of this violent duo were superseded by the hate-filled disinformation of another of their political allies, a member of the National Front named Ian Derek Meller. On November 16 (under the name I. Meller) he published a letter in the newspaper that stated:

“I would like to draw your attention to the fact that the Labour Party in their words “will let schools promote homosexuality”. What on earth are they thinking of? That sex should be promoted in schools, let alone sodomy, is unbelievable.”

This was emblematic of the type of hate-filled misinformation that was being spread across the country at the time, and to her credit Yvonne Dawn Gregory made just this point in a letter she had published in the Mercury on December 4.

A Petition Borne of Hate

But the far-right did not limit themselves to waging their propaganda war to the pages of the newspaper and were already out on the streets trying to sow confusion amongst the public. Related to this development, on November 20 the Mercury reported that a petition protesting against the proposed Mardi Gras festival had just been handed in to the local authority’s Art and Leisure committee.

The next we hear from local reactionaries was on January 22 when Kathryn Fury fumed in the Mercury’s letters page about “the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”. This rant was followed a few days later by a short letter, whose authors name was withheld, which stated that the proposed “Festival seems at variance with Section 28.” More usefully, on the same day, the Director of Leicester Citizens Advice Bureau, Brian Carr, had a letter printed which warned the Mercury’s readers about the formation of a right-wing group calling itself The Silent Majority. Carr explained how:

“A number of your readers may have received mailings from an organization called ‘Silent Majority’, which is campaigning to stop the Lesbian and Gay Mardi Gras Festival which is due to be staged in Abbey Park in July of this year.

Ostensibly, they appear to be objecting to any group being singled out as ‘privileged’. However, in studying their campaign literature more closely, it becomes apparent that the ethos behind their campaign is rather more sinister.

The leaflet stated the City Council, in allowing the festival to happen, is deliberately ‘promoting homosexuality’, and makes a point of condemning the Council’s decision to admit children under 15 at no charge.

It asks: “Are you frightened your children may be vulnerable?” The implication – that the lesbian and gay community poses a particular threat to young people – shows an ignorance of face (homosexuals are proportionately less likely to behave inappropriately towards children than heterosexuals, and a levy of bigotry that allies ‘Silent Majority’ more to the methods employed by extreme right-wing anti-minority groups, than to those employed by campaigners for equal opportunities for all…” (Letter published on January 27, 2000)

Although only reported in the Mercury the following week, on the evening of Thursday 27th January the far-right ‘Silent Majority’ group had attended a full council meeting where they presented their petition in opposition to the planned festival (a petition which was signed by around 300 locals). In an article titled “The price of free speech” (January 31) the Mercury reported how…

“Freedom of speech was stretched to the limit at Leicester’s first full council meeting of the 21st century. Nazi salutes, homophobic comments and racist abuse were hurled from the public gallery as councillors tried to ride out the storm.

Every full council meeting has a public question session, allowing Leicester citizens to quiz councillors, while their friends watch from the gallery. But the system almost collapsed last Thursday over one issue – whether the council should permit a gay festival at Abbey Park.

Lord Mayor Phil Swift repeatedly urged nine members of the public gallery to be quiet, when two opponents of the festival questioned leisure chairman Councillor Piara Clair.

While Coun Clair spoke, one member of the public shouted, “We need an interpreter”, while another claimed many councillors were gay and influenced by a “gay mafia”.

When the questions finished, the Lord Mayor and council of officers sitting at the front of the chamber saw two members of the public perform Nazi salutes as they left the gallery…”[1]

A few days after this shocking newspaper article had been published, Derek Goodwin, now apparently a spokesperson for the Silent Majority, had a long feature letter printed in the newspaper in which he berated the earlier letter penned by the Director of Leicester Citizens Advice Bureau. Goodwin also warned…

“As for using extreme right wing tactics, I can assure Mr Carr that we will continue to barrack council meetings, we will continue to produce hard hitting and to the point campaigning literature and we will complain, cajole and verbally attack this festival at every point. If this is what you mean by right wing tactics then we plead ‘guilty’.” (Letter published on February 2, 2000)

The next day the Mercury then carried an anonymous letter authored by another far-right activist allied to Goodwin and Company, in which the author claimed they had been present in the gallery at the infamous council meeting and had allegedly “saw nothing” offensive taking place.

“Debating the Gay Question”

In the interests of so-called balance, the Mercury followed these dramatic events by running a long article titled “Debating the gay question” (February 8). This article, whose origins was of dubious merit, ostensibly presented two opposing sides of a ‘debate’: the first from someone who understood that homosexuals were fully human and the second, from someone who disagreed. Speaking on the side of sense was a Leicestershire teacher named Steve Bonham who was quoted in his capacity as a spokesperson for Leicester Lesbian and Gay Action; on the other side of the ‘debate’ was the local conservative leader of the Federation of Muslim Organisations, Manzoor Moghal, who asserted that homosexuality represented a “violation of family values”.

A few days on and the Mercury, always seemingly bending over backwards to allow free speech to bigots, printed a letter written by Michael Shore (on February 12), who signed off his letter (which concerned the IRA and not the so-called gay mafia) with the listing of his fascist political affiliation which was as the branch organiser of the Leicestershire National Front. Thankfully this was followed by four letters from members of the public who successfully rebutted Derek Goodwin’s earlier lies about the gay community.[2]

On February 15, a short letter authored by two local councillors who had attended the aforementioned controversial council meeting (Coun Mary Draycoot and Coun Maggie Bodell-Stagg) affirmed that the Mercury’s prior description of the event were completely accurate, although they added that the nazi offenders additionally used “their hands to imitate the use of a gun.” It is also noteworthy that on the same day the Mercury reported that the organisers of the planned Mardi Gras had now clarified that “youngsters aged 15 or below would not be allowed into the Abbey Park show – unless they are accompanied by an adult.”

The fascists were now on a roll, and on February 18, the local National Front organiser, Michael Shore, had another letter published, although this time without any notification of his political affiliation. In this letter he screamed with the type of fury that comes so naturally to bigots…

“Why does this Government seem intent on promoting what seems to be a gay agenda? Leicester City Council should themselves hang their heads in shame. They have given permission to the holding of a homosexual festival in the city, which itself is against the present law as stated in Section 28. This event should be banned!”

Denise Pfieiffer’s fascist cohabitor Clive Potter subsequently had a short letter published in the Mercury a few weeks later (on March 6) wherein he wrongly asserted that “Section 28 never results in bullying.”

A “first-person” article published on March 8 by local Mercury journalist Andrea Smith then commented on from these bile-filled letters by making the sensible point that “If it weren’t for the opposition there’d be no Mardi Gras”. Yet in the interests of faux balance, the following day the newspaper gave space to an opposing “first-person” column. In this opinion piece the local religious conservative, Manzoor Moghal, said “Let’s keep Section 28 and not allow this Mardi Gras” – a deluded statement which eventually received a direct rebuttal on the letters page on March 23 (courtesy of Kalav Mistry).

Fortunately, the day after Moghal’s diatribe was printed, another member of the public (Matthew Sullivan) had a long letter published that argued in favour of the Mardi Gras festival taking place, arguing that “Gay minorities need society’s protection” (March 10). And given the close relationship between the then existing homophobic panic that was dominating the mainstream media and the current transphobia being promoted by the British government and many others besides, it is ironic that at the time the famed liberal feminist Germaine Greer was in Leicester (on March 9) promoting her latest book, The Whole Women. A text which helped popularise a vicious and totally unfounded attack upon the entire trans community.

Axing the Mardi Gras

But the campaign of hate that was being waged against the LGBTQ+ community within the pages of the Leicester Mercury and in the city council’s own chambers too was also being waged by the far-right in a more personal way, with threats of violence being made against the organisers of the planned event. This became evident on March 13 when the frontpage of the Leicester Mercury carried the headline “Fear of violence axes Mardi Gras.” The article explained:

“Leicester’s first Mardis Gras has been cancelled after organisers claimed they received threats from right-wing extremists.

…The organisers also claimed the National Front had applied to picket the park perimeters and protest in the streets on the day of the carnival. That forced the team behind the celebration of gay and lesbian lifestyles to postpone the extravaganza until next year.”

The Mercury later explained in an editorial how “such has been the fear of violence or the threat of it because one group of people wanted to hold a festival celebrating their lifestyle, their right to freedom of expression has effectively been denied” (March 14). But the stream of prejudiced propaganda from religious conservatives did not end here, and in a letter published on March 15, written by the Communications Secretary of the Leicester Central Seventh Day Adventist (then based on London Road), Miss Hines repeated Tory and far-right talking points when she asserted how “There is a genuine fear in the community that people under the guise of health educationalists will progandise and brainwash innocent children into a homosexual lifestyle.”[3]

The Working-Class Respond

Over the next few weeks, a now visibly frustrated public made their progressive views felt, such that a further ten letters were printed arguing in favour of the Mardi Gras taking place,[4] with just two letters defending prejudice (with one published by a new ‘Silent Majority’ booster named Diane Baker).

The Mercury itself also highlighted the nature of the hate-filled social attitudes that existed within the upper reaches of the Conservative Party when they carried an article titled “Gay groups attack ‘bigoted’ Euro MP” (April 8) in an article which drew attention to a disgusting pamphlet that Roger Helmer had just published wherein he claimed that homosexuality was “abnormal and undesirable”.

It was now becoming clear that local organisers associated with fighting for LGBTQ+ rights were not going to be cowed into silence even when faced with the threat of violence, and on April 10 the Mercury ran article which explained:

“Leicester College students’ union has lined up a meeting [at the Secular Hall] tonight to try to put the festival back on. Students’ union vice-president Liz Yeates said: “We want to try to get the event going again. We have already had a lot of support from groups in the community.”

Yet bizarrely the article gave the last word to local fascist Derek Goodwin, who as the spokesman for The Silent Majority warned: “We will watch and see what the outcome of the meeting is.”

Either way, the following day the Mercury had more good news to announce when they reported that “Plans for Leicester’s first Mardi Gras look set to be resurrected after more than 120 people packed the city’s Secular Gall to give their support for the event.” But again, in another bizarre attempt at balance, the Mercury ended their article with another ominous quote from the so-called Silent Majority.

Although not mentioned in the Mercury’s coverage of these events, one of the founding members of this new group, which was christened Unity Against Prejudice, wrote at the time of the events how:

“This genuinely broad based campaign was initiated by Socialist Party members at a meeting of Leicester University Socialist Students and has been backed by Leicester College Students Union [where Liz Yeates was a student officer], Leicester University LGB society and a number of other organisations and individuals so far.”

The socialist student who was then based at the University, Darren Rushin, went on to explain how the attendees at the first successful Secular Hall meeting “agreed to organise a march and rally and aim to follow it with a ‘mini festival’.” He added:

“The mood of the majority of the meeting was that this would not be just a replacement Mardi Gras, but a statement of opposition to all forms of prejudice. We want[ed] to link up the gay community, the black and asian community, trades unionists, everyone who is under threat from the far right.”[5]

The launch meeting which took place at the Secular Hall formed a steering committee to take forward their plans, and on April 29 another article was featured in the press which highlighted how campaigners from Unity Against Prejudice had now “unveiled a plan to stage a lesbian and gay festival to replace the ‘Mardi Gras’” to take place on July 29. The mission of Unity Against Prejudice was further promoted on the new group’s web site which noted:

“Unity Against Prejudice is a Leicester-based campaign group founded in the wake of the cancellation of the proposed Leicester Mardi Gras, due to far-right threats. Our intention was to set up an alternative, non-profit-making awareness event; to give the lesbian, gay and bisexual community of Leicester the event that they undeservedly lost, and to offer protest against prejudice in general, and those who made the threats in particular. We feel that no-one should have to put up with any kind of prejudice, and we work towards making Leicester a more tolerant place to live.”

The Fascist Media Offensive Expands

The far-right evidently saw these new developments as a major threat to their ongoing efforts to intimidate Mardi Gras’s organisers into silence. So, in addition to sending further personal threats to the event’s new organisers, from April 11 onwards they set about getting a long series of homophobic letters published in the Mercury.

The first letter in this homophobic pile-on was published on April 11 by Teddy Szatrowski, with subsequent letters published on April 14 (by Graham Patterson), April 17 (by Denise Pfieiffer), April 18 (by Derek Goodwin), April 21 (by Denise Pfieiffer), April 28 (by Richard Yates-Smith, the editor of the right-wing Neighbour Publications), May 8 (by Kathryn Fry), and on May 15 (by Teddy Szatrowski). Thereafter it seems that the far-rights efforts to dominate the Mercury died down. However, during this time of renewed media prominence, Derek Goodwin managed to publish a different type of letter that attacked public sector workers wherein he argued that such workers should not fight for better pay and conditions (“Teachers and nurses already paid enough,”April 13). While on the non-bigoted side of the Mardi Gras debate a further four letters were published by progressive voices, including one authored by Wendy El Ashrafi — a member of the Unity campaign who was the LGB Officer at the University of Leicester.

It is relevant to point out that at the time of the far-right’s letter writing spree the local fascist community came under fire for different reasons, which was highlighted when the Mercury (April 22) ran an article titled “Union suspends official in far-right politics probe.” This article referred to the results of an ongoing campaign that was being headed by the Anti-Nazi League with the aim of getting local fascist Clive Potter sacked from his job at the Leicester Royal Infirmary. The Mercury article however was primarily concerned with the union investigation, because at the time, this fascist (who was living with Silent Majority leader Denise Pfieiffer) had somehow been acting as a Unison shop steward in his hospital.[6]

Moving on in time again, by May 19 the Mercury was reporting that Unity Against Prejudice (UAP) were not only organising a Mardi Gras styled event at Abbey Park but were planning to hold a political march too. The newspaper stated:

“A protest march is planned to move off from Wellington Street in the city at 1pm to the park where the main festival will take place.

Melanie Baxter of UAP, said: “Members of the lesbian, gay and bisexual community want a positive event to celebrate our lifestyles. But, the UAP campaign wants to encourage all Leicester people to come along and make a statement against all forms of prejudice – whether it be anti-gay, racist, sexist or any other kind.”

Michelle Grimwood, of the LGB Centre said: “The political side of it will be addressed in the march.”

For a change this good news was not immediately met by any angry letters, and instead the Mercury published two supportive letters, one by Yvonne Dawn Gregory (on May 22), and another by Mrs B Foster (on May 27), the latter of whom was supportive of the planned Mardi Gras but had expressed a preference for it to be held on Victoria Park instead of Abbey Park. But predictably there followed two right-wing letters (on June 3 and June 6), and another quick response that was authored by Yvonne Dawn Gregory to her fascist critics on June 10; and then two more right-wing letters (published on June 17 and on June 20), with the last one being written by Denise Pfieiffer. These were the last critical letters to be published in the run-up to Leicester’s first Pride event.

The Big Day

Although the local newspaper chose not to run any positive stories about the upcoming festival and planned protest as they typically do for other similar events, they did continue covering the story from a purely logistical point of view. So, in the week before the event took place the Mercury (July 24) reported how “Groups opposed to the event have signalled their intention to hold a counter demonstration at the same time” and the newspaper pointed out that this had led the Pride organisers to make a public appeal for event stewards to ensure the safety of all those involved on the day. This need for stewards owed to the fact that the counter demonstration was being organised by the National Front and other local and extremely violent fascists. A further newspaper article published on July 27 thus explained:

“Police will be patrolling a demonstration by Leicestershire National Front.

The Anti Nazi League has said it will also be gathering inside Abbey Park to mark their opposition to the National Front.

A group called The Silent Majority, which is against the gay event, has said it will stage a peaceful demonstration at 12.30pm near the Holy Cross Priory Church in Willngton Street.”

Unfortunately the organisers of the Anti-Nazi League had, according to a report published by the Socialist Party shortly after the event took place, “decided to hold and heavily publicise a separate event despite UAP’s pleas to join the Pride event behind their own banner.” The Anti-Nazi Leagues’s separate march was advertised as “Stop the Nazi National Front march: defend the Mardi Gras, unite against the Nazis,” and they had advertised their assembly point as Abbey Park (meeting at 12pm), although in the end they ended up congregating on Humberstone Gate.

In reporting on the fascist threats that eventuated on the day of the march, in rather stereotypical fashion the local press chose to present the far-rights efforts to disrupt the peaceful march as a disturbance that was inflicted upon the city by both sides, the festival organisers and the fascists. Therefore, the Leicester Mercury (July 29) article produced on the day of the protest was titled “Protest groups disrupt shoppers.” The frontpage article on the “disturbance” pointed out how:

“Shoppers watched as rival groups hurled insults at each other from behind police lines in Leicester city centre this afternoon. Right-wing groups, members of Leicester’s Silent Majority, and protesters from the Anti-Nazi League converged on Humberstone Gate ahead of a Gay Pride march. Hundreds of shoppers had to make detours around the area.

A huge police operation swung into action to keep the rival factions apparent in Humberstone Gate before the march left from Wellington Street. Up to 15 arrests were made.

The Gay Pride march was organised by Leicester group UAP after a planned Mardi Gras was cancelled earlier this year.

…The number of Right-wing protesters swelled to a figure of around 30 during the afternoon, while there were around 40 Anti-nazi protesters.

… As the Gay Pride march went past the Clocktower and towards Churchgate the Right-wing groups’ chants were drowned out by the marchers… Gay, lesbian and bisexuals formed the majority of the marching crowd and were joined by members of the Leicester Green Party, the Hunt Saboteurs’ Association and a number of political groups.”

Protestors stewarding the Unity Against Prejudice march put the figures involved at between 400 and 500 people and estimated that the far-right turnout was about 70 strong.

Unity Against Prejudice organiser Darren Rushin’s own report for the Socialist Party described the event in more positive terms than that presented in the Mercury.

“Banners of the Socialist Party, UNISON and the Green Party were carried amongst those of gay groups and organisations like Outrage and LGB action, all behind the leading banner of ‘Unity Against Prejudice’.

Despite attempts by the Nazi National Front (NF) and British National Party (BNP) to disrupt the march, over 400 gay and straight people marched – and danced – through the centre of Leicester with whistles, placards and a Samba band, shouting slogans like “we demand equality for absolutely everybody”. Afterwards, a party and rally in the city’s Abbey Park was held, where speakers included Naomi Byron of Youth Against Racism in Europe as well as representatives from the Indian Workers Association, the NUS LGB campaign and Unity Against Prejudice (UAP) – the group who organised the event.”

Subsequent to  the successful event, the Mercury (July 31) then published an article with the strange title: “Police’s handling of gay pride march is praised.” In this article the newspaper noted that more than 300 marchers had taken part in the Pride event and that two members of the National Front had been arrested: one of those fascists being arrested being one-time letter writer Ian Derek Meller who was later fined “£400 after being caught carrying a piece of wood in Humberstone Gate”.[7] This Mercury report also emphasised the positive nature of the landmark party that took place after the political march, describing how “Revellers savoured a laid-back party atmosphere in the park, enjoying picnics as dance music boomed out from the sounds systems.” The newspaper article quoted local Socialist Party member, Steve Score, who was one of the organisers of the march, as saying:

“It was a great day. People asserted their right to march and at the same time we united black and white, straight and gay, against prejudice.”

A Great Day to Remember

Leicester’s first Pride event was of course a massive achievement, and one that succeeded against all the odds. Moreover, the personal threats (including death threats) that were directed at the event’s organisers are not something to be sniffed at, which is precisely why it was so critical that the city eventually came together as it did to organise politically against the far-right to give Pride its proud launch in Leicester.

But as time goes by it is easy to lose track of the important historical milestones that have been won by the collective actions of the working class, something that becomes harder if you rely upon the capitalist media to shape your view of the world. Because just a year later, when the second Leicester Pride event took place on Jul 21, 2001, it seems that the Leicester Mercury was already helping to erase the significance of the first event, when after the second Pride event had taken place they reported that “Hundreds of people took to the streets of Leicester today to take part in the city’s first lesbian and gay festival.”[8]

NOTES


[1] The Leicester Mercury article continued: “One spectator question why Coun Swift and his advisers had not ordered the protesters to leave, following several warnings. He argued that the protesters had called their bluff and won. But council leader Ross Willmott is clear that it was best to let the hecklers have their say. He says: ‘The behaviour of this small minority was extremely offensive. But I will always favour the fight to freedom of speech – exposing and shaming these people for such poor behaviour is better than pushing things underground. Further angry meetings are expected when the council debates its budget plans over the next month. People opposed to tax rises or the closure of neighbourhood centres will expect to have the same freedom of speech.’”

[2] On February 15, the Mercury ran a letter (authored by Stephen Baker) that rebutted Derek Goodwin’s lies about the gay community, while later in the month another letter-writer took issue with Goodwin’s nonsense asking “Why, for that matter, does he and a small minority think that they should be able to dictate to our democratically elected council?” And a further two letters then lambasted Goodwin’s ignorance on March 1.

[3] On the same day the Mercury (March 15) published another “first-person” column authored by journalist Andrea Smith where she noted that the threats were “No hallmark of a city that is truly integrated.” And then a few days later (on March 18) the Director of the Citizens Advice Bureau had a “first-person” column published where he was able to voice his discontent with the threats of violence.

[4] One of the letters published on March 27 was authored by Jill Bellingham, on behalf of management committee of the Leicester Lesbian Gay and Bisexual Centre. Jill responded to Manzoor Moghal’s nonsense noting that she was “surprised and saddened to read his disparaging and inaccurate remarks about the lesbian and gay community.”

[5] Darren Rushin, “Resistance to fascist threats organised in Leicester,” Leicester Socialist Party, April 2020.

[6] Clive Potter’s ability to play a leading local role in Unison should never have happened as Potter’s politics were hardly a secret. Indeed, just a few years earlier he had served as the parliamentary candidate in Leicester West for the National Front breakaway group, the National Democrats (receiving a total of 186 votes in 1997). Either way Potter was correctly purged from his union position, and he subsequently went on to work with the BNP to launch a fake trade union known as Solidarity.

[7] “Gay rights march: Four men appear in court,” Leicester Mercury, August 4, 2000.

[8] “Revellers join in Leicester Pride parade,” Leicester Mercury, July 21, 2001.

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