HATE will never win is the message from charity Warwickshire Pride.
It comes after a torrent of homophobic abuse forced volunteers from the charity to close down a stall early at Stratford Market.
The charity – which provides guidance to members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transexual (LGBT) community – reported some 100 cases of abuse from passers-by to police who are treating it as hate crime.
A tirade of abusive comments and profanity – reportedly from adults – included ‘that’s disgusting’ and ‘I don’t want to see that’.
Since news of the intimidation spread across social media the community has united against such abuse.
Charity spokesperson Dan Browne said its members were overwhelmed by the response.
He added: “The kindness and support has been a great source of comfort.
“Hundreds of other people have been in touch to offer solidarity and support. Donations have been coming in and we’ve received lots of volunteer applications.
“It has shown that the people who were homophobic at the market are in a minority.
“A lot of good things are happening as a result of what happened to us though, and again I’d like to thank everyone who has been in touch.
“It’s shown that hate will never win.”
Both Warwickshire County Council and Stratford District Council have pledged their commitment to tackling hate crime in the county.
WCC spokesman Coun Howard Roberts said: “I was personally shocked to hear about the incident in Stratford over the weekend. This kind of behaviour must not be tolerated in our society.
“Warwickshire County Council and our partners are united in our aim of keeping all our residents safe from the harms caused by hate and hate crime. We all have our part to play and we must never tolerate hate crime.”
And a spokesperson from the district council said nobody should tolerate being victimised because of who they were, and it was a criminal offence motivated by hostility or prejudice.
Several organisations are holding fundraisers to show solidarity with the charity including the Shakespeare Institute which is aiming to raise £500 for Pride on JustGiving.
But while the incident has rallied support across the community, Mr Browne warned there was still a lot of work to do in the town.
He added: “Among all of the positive comments there have been a number of local people who have got in touch to say that they have been victims of anti-gay and anti-trans abuse in Stratford too.
“We know that what happened on our market stall was not an isolated incident. Stratford has a problem that needs to be solved.”
The charity is organising an equality rally in Stratford on Saturday April 21.
Visit www.warwickshirepride.co.uk for more about the charity and upcoming events.