A far-right group attempting to hijack the first anniversary of the Pulse nightclub shooting is to face a counter protest.
Gays Against Sharia, an organisation of far-right and anti-Islam activists, who proport to support LGBT rights, are planning to march in Manchester this weekend.
Now an opposing protest has been arranged in a bid to counter the group’s message.
Lesbians and Gays Support the Migrants and Action for Trans Health say they will be countering the protest, “to show that people in the LGBT+ community will not allow the far right to co-opt LGBT+ rights as a weapon to oppress other minorities.”
Sam Bjorn said: “As LGBT+ people we won’t stand idly by as far right bigots like the EDL attempt to use our rights as a weapon against people from the Muslim community.
“When groups like the EDL are preying on tragedy like the recent attack in Manchester to promote hate and division, it’s more important than ever to come together and say that we do not tolerate their Islamophobia and racism.
“We encourage everyone, gay or straight, to join us on 11 June to show that the LGBT+ community and the people of Manchester won’t let the hate of far right bigots divide us.”
The anti-Mulsim march comes at a time of heightened tensions in the city, after 22 were killed in a terrorist attack, including gay man Martyn Hett.
The Facebook page for the event depicts shocking images of men being hanged, racist, Islamophobic content, and a video produced by gay Trump supporter Milo Yiannopoulos.
Former leader of the English Defence League, Tommy Robinson, is set to speak at the anti-Muslim march, along with Anna Marie Waters, who was rejected as a candidate for UKIP.
Founder of the EDL’s supposed LGBT wing, Tommy Cook, who goes by the name Tommy English on social media, is said to be behind the march.
Lots of big names attending this rally; we have @AMDWaters of @WatchSharia and @TRobinsonNewEra of @TheRebelTV. Come join us & make a stand pic.twitter.com/1FZunJAwno
— Tommy English كافر (@EnglishTommy1) April 7, 2017
A coalition of LGBT organisations across Manchester have now come together to oppose the planned march.
One organiser, Anna, said: “We’re protesting because the far-right want to use Orlando and the recent killings in the UK to demonise all Muslims.
“We are clear that it is genocidal to consider millions of people responsible for the actions of a few violent men.
“As queers, we know what it’s like for right-wingers to hate us – so we won’t be divided like this.”
The anti-Muslim march, masquerading as a genuine LGBT rights event, is not the first of its nature.
Last year an event in Stockton-on-Tees had billed itself as a Pride march in ‘Solidarity for the Orlando and Nice Attacks’, organised by a supposed LGBT group.
It purported to have been set up by ‘LGBT Stockton on Tees’ – a group that had no identifiable contact information, or have held other LGBT events or actions.
Far-right groups including Britain First have previously been accused of exploiting a number of causes including animal welfare and women’s rights in order to recruit and accrue donations.
Anti-extremism bodies are concerned that LGBT rights could also be exploited to drive an extremist agenda, due to the groundswell of pro-LGBT sentiment online.