Police in Bristol have said they are considering the burning of a billboard featuring an advert for the local Pride festival as a hate crime, after it set alight less than 24 hours after being put up.
One corner of the display on Station Road was burned away in the incident, which event organisers described as a ‘targeted attack against our LGBT+ community’.
In a tweeted statement, they compared the billboard fire to another incident in the Bedminster area of the city last week, in which a lesbian couple’s rainbow doormat was spray-painted black.
The statement said: ‘Considered acts of hatred like this are the reason why Pride remains a protest, as well as a celebration of visibility.
‘It only gives evidence as to why we need Pride and to show up supporting each other.
‘More than ever, we need allyship, we need to call out hate and prejudice, and remember that our freedoms must be protected, rather than taken complacently.’
Bristol Pride, the UK’s largest free Pride festival, will take place over two weeks from this Saturday, culminating in performances from singers including Jake Shears, Nadine Coyle and Natalie Imbruglia on July 8.
Pride Month 2023
Pride Month is here, with members of the LGBTQ+ community and their allies celebrating their identities, accomplishments, and reflecting on the struggle for equality throughout June.
This year, Metro.co.uk is exploring the theme of family, and what it means to the LGBTQ+ community.
Find our daily highlights below, and for our latest LGBTQ+coverage, visit our dedicated Pride page.
RuPaul’s Drag Race stars Ra’Jah O’Hara and Tia Kofi will also be taking to the Cabaret Stage.
Chief executive Daryn Carter told Metro.co.uk: ‘There has been an overwhelming response this morning, so many people have been sharing and responding with their love and solidarity for the community and for us as the organisers.
‘Many people have voiced how angry and upset they are and shared their concerns with the current hostile environment for the LGBT+ community.
‘If any good can come of this, it’s a reminder that we should never be complacent, and it has raised awareness that sadly, even in our wonderful city of Bristol, hate and prejudice still exists.’
He said the poster would be transferred to a digital screen elsewhere in the city.
A spokesperson for Avon and Somerset Police said: ‘We have recorded this as a hate crime at this time.
‘We do not tolerate such crime and an investigation is underway.
‘We are reaching out to event organisers to keep them updated on our investigation.’
Among the people lending their support was Bristol Cathedral city chaplain Phil Nott, who said people from the church would be joining the Pride celebrations ‘as members of LGBTQ community, allies and people seeking the flourishing of all humans made in God’s image’.
Children’s author Susie Day tweeted about the vandalism of her doormat in Bedminster on June 13, which came after another rainbow doormat belonging to her and her wife was stolen.
However, the homophobic attack backfired when the rest of the street bought their own rainbow doormats in solidarity with the couple.
Susie told the Bristol Post: ‘That will be a really nice thing for us, to go out and walk down the street and see that there’s this support.’
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