Hundreds of protesters have gathered outside a south London pub in support of a drag queen storytelling event for children after opposition group Turning Point UK announced plans to try to prevent it from taking place.
The event at The Honor Oak pub in Lewisham has drawn dozens of LGBT+ rights activists and locals in support, after police arrived at the scene amid fears of another right-wing demonstration like the one seen outside the Tate Britain earlier this month.
The reading session will be hosted by drag queen That Girl, who has disputed Turing Point UK’s claims that the storytelling session is not suitable for children.
They told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: ‘We’re fostering a love of stories and I’m just a clown in a pretty dress facilitating it. It’s completely age appropriate. To suggest otherwise is misinformation.
Dozens of police officers have been photographed at the scene in anticipation of potential clashes between Turning Point UK and those who support LGBT+ rights, but at first it appeared no right-wing activists had turned up.
Hundreds of protesters flocked to the Honor Oak pub at lunchtime on Saturday, almost all in support of drag queen That Girl.
One person appeared to have been arrested by the police during the protest and counter-protest.
Counter-protesters with flags and banners lined the streets with no right-wing protesters in sight.
It follows a huge protest that turned ugly at Tate Britain earlier this month after drag queen Aida H Dee, the face of Drag Queen Story Hour UK, was hired to read to children in the gallery.
The right-wing organization Turning Point UK posted on social media on Friday announcing their plans to protest today’s event in a bid to prevent it from taking place.
According to eyewitnesses at the scene, around 30 protesters eventually made it to the pub on Saturday, only to be outnumbered by counter-protesters.
Prior to the event, the Honor Oak pub posted a statement on Facebook noting that the event was kid-friendly.
The post read: “It has come to our attention that there may be some misunderstanding about the event, so we wanted to reassure everyone that our popular Magical Storytelling event will be age-appropriate and nothing different than what families will see.” and experiment together in a theater.’
Drag queen That Girl also issued a statement on social media: ‘We have been informed of plans to protest our event and we are grateful to those who have offered to attend in solidarity with us.
‘If you feel safe and able to join us, please come, keeping in mind that our event will be a show of queer joy and solidarity.
“We ask that you not engage with any protesters; they are not looking for a conversation and we will not dignify their bigotry with a response.”
‘If you need them, there will be security on site. Thank you for your support and we look forward to seeing you.’
There was a heavy police presence on the scene after Turning Point UK announced plans to protest the event.
The storytelling session is led by drag queen That Girl and was scheduled to start at 11 a.m.
But by the 11 a.m. start time, only people in favor of story time seemed to have turned up at the venue.
Many of the activists in the pub held up signs reading “Don’t let the far right divide us”.
Dozens of counter-protesters flocked to the Lewisham venue after hearing that protesters planned to block storytelling time from going ahead.
Police pictured arriving on the scene on Saturday morning in south-east London.
The drag storytelling hour is just the latest in a series of events across the UK to attract protests.
Far-right organizations like the Patriotic Alternative have protested at sites across the UK in recent months in an attempt to stop drag queens from reading stories to children.
two weeks ago nRight-wing protesters clashed with largely peaceful LGBT+ rights supporters outside Tate Britain. in a separate narrative event.
One person was arrested at the protest on suspicion of making a racially aggravated comment towards a police officer outside the central London art gallery.
Around 30 far-right protesters clashed with a similar number of counter-protesters who turned up in support of the storytelling.
After the event, Aida H Dee tweeted: ‘I’m crying. I write this crying in a subway station. I may not be proud of my government, but today I am very proud of my community! THANK YOU!
‘I featured my OWN published books AND IT WAS AWESOME!’
A Tate spokesperson said: ‘Police attended a disturbance outside Tate Britain this morning. The gallery has remained open to visitors throughout the day and all events proceeded as planned.’