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Members stand up to EDL and celebrate equality

25 June 2013

TSSA activists in York recently had a weekend of highly contrasting activities, writes Frank Ormston. One group of members took the positive message of equality to York Pride, campaigning for a Better Railway amongst the thousands there, whilst other members helped lead a very necessary but less welcome task – opposing the racist English Defence League‘s attempt to abuse a memorial to rail workers.


TSSA members were amongst 150 people who gathered at the North Eastern Railway war memorial. This had been singled out by the racist EDL in an attempt to stoke Islamophobia in the city in the wake of the brutal murder of Lee Rigby.

TSSA supported the counter-protest after local members and other rail workers had expressed disgust at the extremists’ attempt to misuse the monument.

Our endorsement of the counter- protest gave encouragement and confidence to many local anti-fascists who had been concerned about appearing to disrupt a purported ‘remembrance’ event, no matter how debased its intent.

The turnout of anti-racists dwarfed that of the EDL by a margin of around ten to one. A local community activist made a moving speech about how we should remember both the victims of fascism and all who lost their lives in the struggle to defeat it. He called for a two- minute silence to honour all victims of war, fascism, and terrorism.
The crowd observed a dignified silence, which the EDL attempted to disrupt by slow hand clapping.

A local TSSA rep spoke to condemn the EDL for attempting to hijack a monument that bore the names of hundreds of rail workers who had died defending their country and democracy against fascism. The day belonged, he said, to the wider community who had mobilised successfully to defend the dignity of the monument.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the city, there was a Spectrum stall at York LGBT Pride. This was the fourth time that Spectrum had represented TSSA at this event, which attracts thousands for a lively afternoon’s entertainment.

Spectrum chair Steve Horne and a team of volunteers from around the country ensured a high profile for TSSA throughout the afternoon, by giving out information leaflets and materials, promoting the union and its support for the Better Rail and FairFail campaigns.


TSSA marches with pride
The first ever UK gay pride march took place in London on 1 July 1972, with the date chosen to fall on the anniversary of the Stonewall riots of 1969, when the gay and transgender communities in Los Angeles fought back against police brutality. Since then Pride events have grown larger, and broader, now involving the whole of the LGBT+ community.

Spectrum, TSSA’s LGBT self- organised group, has achieved a growing presence at Pride events in riecent years.

Spectrum welcomes all TSSA members, both LGBT and straight, to come along to Pride events and show support for LGBT equality. London Pride includes the parade on Saturday 29 June ( with Brighton on Saturday 3 August (

For more information contact Mel Taylor:

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