Pride Volunteers Told Homosexuality Is “An Illness That People Can’t Help Catching”

Passersby told volunteers manning a booth for Warwickshire Pride "that’s disgusting."

Volunteers for a local Pride event in England were harassed and berated while manning a booth at a street market.

On Saturday, an unnamed volunteer was manning a booth for Warwickshire Pride at the Stratford-upon-Avon Market. According to organizers, the lone worker “was subjected a shocking amount of anti-LGBT+ comments and behaviours from members of the public.”

A second volunteer arrived on the scene, only to see the abuse continue.

“The first person who approached the stall shouted at our volunteer and told him that an LGBT+ stall has no place in Stratford,” said Warwickshire Pride in a statement. “From then on over 100 people walked past the stall or approached it and either tutted, gave looks of disgust or made comments such as ’that’s disgusting,’ ’I don’t wanna see that,’ and ’for fuck’s sake, look at that.'”

One man reportedly claimed he had nothing against LGBT people “because it’s an illness that people can’t help catching.”

The volunteers say they stopped counting remarks after 100.

Organizers have reported the hate incidents to Warwickshire Police and the Equality and Inclusion Partnership (EQuIP), and plan to contact the Stratford District Council and local MP Nadhim Zahawi. In addition, a rally is being planned for March 21.

“Although what happened that day has been deeply upsetting and distressing, it has not deterred us from continuing to work for LGBT+ people in Stratford. If anything, we are more determined to ensure that [they] feel safe and able to be who they are.”

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.