Tory MPs accused of adding to hostility at drag shows

Tory MPs accused of adding to hostility at drag shows
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Tory MPs have been accused of mainstreaming hostility to drag events.

According to a report from the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD), at least 57 drag events have been targeted over the past year by "child protection" advocates and the messaging from some Conservatives has not helped this.

Indeed, several Conservative MPs and peers have publicly criticised all-ages drag events, including one peer who questioned whether children would also be offered “entertainment by murderers, paedophiles, terrorists, furries and other fetishists”.

In January this year, the Tory peer Emma Nicholson described a Drag Queen Story Time (DQSH) event due to take place in the Tate Britain the following month as “propaganda”. On the day, clashes took place between far-right activists and counter-protesters.

In March, the Tory MP Sara Britcliffe tweeted about a DQSH event due to take place at a literary festival in Lancashire, urging the organisers to cancel it, which they did due to “safety concerns”. A month later, another Conservative MP, Nick Fletcher, said “serious questions” had to be answered about a “glam camp” for children that took place over the Easter holidays in Doncaster.

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The report said the interest of Conservative politicians showed how the opposition to drag is being “mainstreamed”.

The report’s author, Aoife Gallagher, said: “These incidents should not be viewed in isolation; they speak to a wider anti-LGBTQ+ mobilisation in the UK and they raise concerns about a backsliding trend in LGBTQ+ rights. Although counter-protesters at drag events often outnumbered protesters, this is not enough to protect these communities.”

Robbie de Santos, director of external affairs at Stonewall, said: “Many LGBTQ+ people in the UK are living in fear as far-right activism grows and gains legitimacy from mainstream political and press support. Protesting drag queens is only part of a picture that also includes attacks on LGBTQ+-inclusive education in schools and ongoing attempts to row back well-established rights.”

The Conservative party toldthe Guardian it would not be commenting on the report.

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