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Editor urges readers to back Pride festival after homophobic attacks

Richard DugganAn editor has urged readers to back local LGBTQ+ people after a series of recent homophobic attacks.

Richard Duggan has called on readers of the Oldham Times to support the town’s Pride festival, warning “things are not all rosy” for gay people in the Greater Manchester area.

Richard, who is himself an openly gay man, is also responsible for the newspapers Newsquest sister dailies the Bolton News and Lancashire Telegraph.

He noted in an editorial for the Times that there are still 11 jurisdictions where the death penalty is imposed “or is at least possible for private, consensual same-sex sex intimacy”.

Richard, pictured, wrote: “Putting aside the fact that Pride isn’t just about the fight for equality at home, things are not all rosy for LGBTQ+ people locally.

“In May, we reported on a homophobic attack which saw two men beaten at Oldham Central tram stop.

“Last month our sister title the Bolton News reported that in Greater Manchester between 2020 and 2021, 1,461 hate crimes were recorded to have been due to sexual orientation, and 169 were recorded as a result of people being transgender, according to Home Office statistics.

“Pride is about raising awareness and unity, it’s not just a celebration, but a reminder of how hard the battle has been and what more needs to be done.

“But the ongoing battle for a better world can’t just be fought by those in the LGBTQ+ community – we all need to unite and show our support.

“That’s why I’m writing to you, not only as editor of The Oldham Times, but also as an openly gay man, to urge you to come out and show your support in person by attending this year’s Oldham Pride.”

Speaking to HTFP, Richard said Pride was “so much more than a party”.

He added: “t’s the opportunity to show your support for the LGBTQ+ community, celebrate how far we’ve come and recognise how much more there is to do in the battle for equality.

“Sadly, no matter how much you try and reason with them, some fail to understand the importance of Pride and why it continues to be so necessary.

“The tried old tropes such as ‘Why isn’t there a straight pride?’ will always be bandied about, no matter how hard you try to reason and educate.

“I’m sure this year’s Oldham Pride will be brilliant and I’m hopeful my letter to readers has had the desired effect; by encouraging people to stand united as a community and help to educate those who want to learn more about the necessity of the event, not just locally, but across the world.”