Pride festival 'will be safe for families'
ORGANISERS of this year's Bristol Pride festival insist their main event will be safe for families to attend, despite a heavily policed march by the English Defence League taking place the same day.
The main part of the We Are: Proud festival, which celebrates the city's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender population, will be a parade and day-long event in College Green.
A quarter of a mile away, Queen Square is the end point of a controversial march by right-wing group the English Defence League to protest over what it calls the "Islamification" of Bristol.
A group of trade unions, community groups and anti-racist organisations called We Are Bristol will stage a counter demonstration to the EDL march opposite the Bristol Hippodrome at the same time.
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City council leader Simon Cook has already told the EDL, which describes itself as an anti-Islamist organisation, that it is not wanted in the city.
About 500 EDL members are expected to attend the march, which starts at Redcliffe Wharf, while around 1,000 police officers will be on duty.
After safety concerns from some people who had been planning to attend Pride, festival spokesman Daryn Carter urged people to still come along and support it.
Mr Carter said: "Pride is safe. The police are working very hard to ensure there is no trouble at all and no clashes. All eyes are on the police and the council.
"The good news is that they have moved the EDL march to the other side of the city centre and it will be later in the day than the Pride parade."
Originally, both events were due to take place late in the morning, with the Pride parade going from Berkeley Square to College Green and the EDL march going from Castle Park to Queen Square.
"There is a clear message coming from all corners," said Mr Carter. "That includes the EDL. They are not here to disrupt Pride.
"They say they are protecting gay rights – whether you agree with that or not is beside the point.
"One good thing coming out of all this is that lots of people are saying they will come along to Pride, because they want to show their support and combat prejudice. So our message is – it will be safe, please come along and support Pride."
After a free day-long festival at College Green, in the evening there will be a Pride Street Fiesta and an after-party at the O2 Academy.
For further information about the events, visit the website www.wearefest.com.