Police investigate after LGBTQ+ flags vandalised with ‘drink toilet water’ and other cruel slogans

Police investigate after LGBTQ+ flags vandalised with ‘drink toilet water’ and other cruel slogans

The Metropolitan Police are investigating a suspected homophobic hate crime after several Pride flags in East London were covered in red paint.

Police were called to Forest Gate Railway Station, on Woodgrange Road, in the early hours of Sunday morning (23 June) in relation to the large Pride progress flag on the pavement outside which had been covered in red paint.

Just days later, on Wednesday (26 June) the police were called out once again to the same location where two other Pride flags had suffered criminal damage and been vandalised with paint.

No arrests have yet been made and enquiries by the police continue.

This is not the first time Pride flags in the East London area have been damaged, previously two trans and rainbow flags had the words “say no” written over them with spray paint whilst a Pride progress flag was covered in an elaborate message urging LGBTQ+ people to “drink toilet water”.

Speaking with PinkNews about the incidents, Forest Gayte Pride founder and co-director Carron Harrison said the organisation is “appalled” by the spate of criminal damage against the flags.

“We’re still fighting for equality and experiencing homophobia, as evidenced by the continuing vandalism of our flags.

“It just highlights how much we do need pride. People say ‘why are you still celebrating? Why you still need pride?’

“But the message that we we want to give is they can paint over our flags, they can intimidate us, but they can’t paint over our pride.”

Pride flags were previously damaged in March 2024 (Forest Gayte Pride/Andrew Diver)

Harrison went on to say that the wider community in Forest Gate has been “absolute outrage” and people have been left upset by the criminal damage.

“Since we’ve had the flags on the pavement people have felt that Forest Gate was really welcoming to the queer community, and even the estate agents have said people move here because of that. They feel safe because of that. So people are absolutely outraged.”

The mayor of Newham, Rokhsana Fiaz, has taken to X/Twitter to condemn the vandalism, saying the council will “repaint the flag with pride and in solidarity”.

She wrote: “Since 2018, here at @NewhamLondon we’ve been clear that our borough is a place where you are free to be whoever you want to be, and free to love whoever you want. We became the first Council to raise the new Progress Rainbow flags at our Town Halls in 2019 & painted the Progress Rainbow flag outside Forest Gate station to celebrate the contributions made by members of our Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender communities.

“The flags we raise and the flags we paint reflect our celebration of our diversity; the need for continued progress & fight for equality. To be vigilant in our efforts to tackle homophobia, transphobia & all forms of hatred and bigotry in our society.”

“We are taking these offences very seriously”

In regards to the most recent incident, detective inspector James Rush – from the North East Area’s Public Protection Unit – said: “We recognise that these incidents have caused considerable concern and upset in the local area and among the local LGBTQ+ community, especially as it has happened during Pride Month and only days before London Pride.

“We share that concern and upset and understand how intimidating this sort of offence can be, which is why we remain committed to rooting out hate crime offenders and preventing further incidents.

“I would like to reassure the community that we are taking these offences very seriously and we are carrying out a thorough investigation to bring the perpetrator or perpetrators to justice. This type of offending will not be tolerated.

“We are also aware of previous allegations of homophobic criminal damage at the same location, including in early March, and as part of our investigation we will be exploring whether this incident is also linked.”

DI Rush encouraged anyone with any information to come forward: “I would urge anyone who has any information about who is responsible, or saw anyone acting suspiciously in the area on Saturday night into Sunday morning, or Tuesday night into Wednesday morning, to get in touch.

“If you were driving in the area at the time and have dash cam footage, please also contact us.”

If you have any information related to the incident you can contact police by calling 101 or visiting, quoting reference 2433/23Jun or alternatively, you can call the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

The post Police investigate after LGBTQ+ flags vandalised with ‘drink toilet water’ and other cruel slogans appeared first on PinkNews | Latest lesbian, gay, bi and trans news | LGBTQ+ news.

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