Far-right protesters target theatre hosting Drag Queen Story Hour

Far-right protesters from group led by former BNP spin doctor Mark Collett target theatre in Swindon hosting Drag Queen Story Hour

  • Members of Patriotic Alternative protested outside the Wyvern theatre today 
  • They were met by counter-demonstrators, with police having to keep them apart

Far-right protesters from a group led by a former BNP spin doctor have targeted a theatre which was hosting a Drag Queen Story Hour event.

Members of Patriotic Alternative, which is headed by Mark Collett, chanted ‘child groomers’ and clashed with counter-protesters outside the Wyvern theatre in Swindon today.

Around 30 police officers were forced to intervene to keep the group and opposition demonstrators apart, with Wiltshire Police having to create a no-go zone to keep them away from each other.

The anti-drag protesters were seen parading banners with the words ‘Stop Sexualising Our Children’ on them, with a representative of the group calling the event ‘immoral’ and a ‘health issue’. 

The show started at 11am and lasted for one hour,  and there were reports the doors were barred from the inside in case anyone tried to storm the venue – while pro-drag demonstrators played loud music and cheered as the event went ahead.

Supporters of Patriotic Alternative stand outside the Wyvern theatre in Swindon today to protest a Drag Queen Story Hour event

Supporters of Patriotic Alternative stand outside the Wyvern theatre in Swindon today to protest a Drag Queen Story Hour event

Pro-LGBT+ supporters hold a banner saying 'Fight Fascists Everywhere!' at a counter-demonstration

Pro-LGBT+ supporters hold a banner saying ‘Fight Fascists Everywhere!’ at a counter-demonstration

Patriotic Alternative is currently led by Mark Collett (pictured left with former BNP leader Nick Griffin)

Patriotic Alternative is currently led by Mark Collett (pictured left with former BNP leader Nick Griffin)

Members of Patriotic Alternative have previously been involved in riots outside a hotel being used by migrants in Liverpool, as well as a Drag Queen Story Hour event at Tate Britain. 

The group, which has previously expressed anti-immigrant and ‘white pride’ views, goaded one drag star with claims of child abuse as they arrived at the theatre on Sunday.

Speakers from the group could be heard saying: ‘It’s against the natural order for a man to be with another man.’ 

Pete Dilly, from Swindon Stand Up To Racism and the spokesperson for today’s counter-protest, said in a press release that far right groups are ‘attempting to divide Swindon with a campaign of hate against our LGBTQ+ community’.

‘Over the past few years, Drag Queen Story Hour has brought joy to thousands of children, parents, libraries, and community groups with its fun, inclusive atmosphere. 

‘It’s like a panto with children’s picture books for a young audience being read, sharing innocent, charming stories like one about a missing hedgehog, teaching about listening to experts… and snot! 

‘The outrage against such a heart-warming event is entirely unjustified.’

The Drag Queen Story Hour offers children the chance to have stories read to them by drag queens but has proven to be controversial.

Anti-drag protesters wave flags and hold banners as they speak to police officers outside the event

Anti-drag protesters wave flags and hold banners as they speak to police officers outside the event

Pro-drag demonstrators hold placards that say 'Don't let the far right divide us - defend LGBT+ communities'

Pro-drag demonstrators hold placards that say ‘Don’t let the far right divide us – defend LGBT+ communities’

Pro-LGBT+ supporters clap and wave at a mother and child arriving for the Drag Queen Story Hour event today

Pro-LGBT+ supporters clap and wave at a mother and child arriving for the Drag Queen Story Hour event today

One of the counter-protesters, Charlie Gadd, who is a member of the socialist workers party, said: ‘I’m here because fascist groups have decided to protest outside this is event.

‘They’re reusing a lot of tropes of queer people being unsafe around kids, it’s a homophobic narrative and we’re here to oppose them. It’s really important we fight fascists when they’re small.

‘It’s a drag queen reading stories, it’s fairly straightforward. People claim to have a problem with a man dressing up as a woman but I bet most of these people have been to a pantomime.’

MailOnline has contacted Wiltshire Police for comment.