One person was arrested after a far-right group protested against a drag queen who read books about kindness and inclusion to children.
Members of Patriotic Alternative, a white nationalist group, are reportedly leading protests this morning outside a UK Drag Queen Story Hour event at London’s Tate Britain.
Drag Queen Story Hour programming in the UK sees drag performers read to children in libraries, festivals and schools.
But Patriotic Alternative says it has “passionately opposed the Drag Queen Story Hour since its arrival in the UK” and has protested “dozens” of story tellings, even to “shut down” some.
Protesters held signs that read “groomer” with an image of an LGBTQ+ Pride flag as well as “Leave our kids alone!” in front of a line of policemen. Some came wearing T-shirts that read: “Groom Dogs, Not Children.”
In response, hundreds of people came holding trans Pride flags and signs reading: “Don’t let the far right divide us” and “Shut up fascism and racism” as part of a pro-LGBTQ+ counter-protest.
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“We protect our children through acceptance and education, not hate,” read another poster.
In a video, one of the counter-protesters shouts into a megaphone: “What are you afraid of? It’s just wigs and make-up.’
Award-winning author Aida H Dee, known as Sab Samuel, hosted three readings as part of Tate’s LGBTQ+ History Month events.
“Hear wonderful stories in a fascinating fairy tale from Aida, the first drag artist in Europe to read stories to children in a kindergarten,” read the event description, noting that the sessions were held at 11 a.m., 12 p.m. . and 2 p.m.
Dozens of parents and guardians and their children packed the gallery to hear Samuel read.
During the lunchtime event, five “haters” stormed the Tate, Samuel tweeted. “They caused a stir,” she said, “but not on (Drag Queen Story Hour UK). Whoop!
“They were making a fuss elsewhere in the building, not where the show was! Show two went swimmingly!”.
Samuel said one of the right-wing protesters was arrested for “hate speech towards supporters”.
A Met spokesman told Metro.co.uk: “Officers are at the scene. There was one arrest on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order offence.
“This relates to comments made to a police officer.”
“Today went great with no interruptions in any performances!” Samuel told Metro.co.uk. “Over 200 people attended outside the Tate with the vast majority being supporters.”
A Tate spokesman said: “Police attended a disturbance outside Tate Britain this morning. The gallery remained open to visitors throughout the day and all events took place as planned.’
The counter-protest was organized by Transgender Action Block, a transgender liberation group, and Stand Up To Racism activists.
Organizers said Patriotic Alternative members “left in fear” as they were “kicked out” less than an hour into the protests before returning.
Transgender Action Block previously urged supporters to come wearing face masks to conceal their identities.
“Trans protestors have been harassed, abused and attacked at previous events,” the group said on Instagram. “We can’t predict how many transphobic people will come to the event or how dangerous and violent they might be.”
Last year, Samuel took Drag Queen Story Hour UK on the road, touring nearly 70 libraries up and down the UK. At times, anti-LGBTQ+ protesters met him, barking profanities into loudspeakers and harassing families entering the grounds.
At a session in Reading in July, protestors claiming to protect children left children terrified as they chanted “playground protectors” and interrupted the reading by shouting and screaming.
“I think we all need to have a serious conversation with ourselves about why these protests are happening,” Samuel added.
“The current government must respond. Five years we have been waiting for a real ban on LGBTQ + conversion therapy.
“The current government must either step up or resign. We need a government that will commit to serious LGBTQ+ education and inclusion in schools.
“This is the only way to eradicate this kind of hatred. The current administration’s track record on any LGBTQ policy is a joke.
“They are woefully underqualified to run a country.”
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