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The BBC's James Helm
"The 'Gay Day' is likely to attract the largest crowd since the Dome's opening"
 real 28k

Jeremy Hanamen, London Gay Men's Chorus
"It's an opportunity for gay and lesbian people to come on this day and have fun"
 real 28k

Chris Stafford, Headmaster Monkton Coombe School
"Our visit to the dome was withdrawn as the children would have been overwhelmed by the demonstration"
 real 28k

Saturday, 12 February, 2000, 04:17 GMT
Dome gears up for 'Gay Day'

The London Gay Men's Chorus The Gay Men's Chorus sang on millennium night

The Millennium Dome will turn pink on Saturday as it opens for an unofficial "Gay Day" despite protests from several schools.

While five schools have boycotted the event, hundreds and possibly thousands of homosexuals are expected to attend.

Dome organisers hope they could push the daily attendance figure past the 25,000 mark for the first time.

The day, based on similar events at Disney parks in America, has been arranged by the London Gay Men's Chorus.

I take the view that this was not an appropriate environment in which to send very young pupils
Andrew Baker, headteacher of Westcliff High School
The Dome's huge canopy will briefly be lit up in pink and the chorus, which performed in the Dome on its opening night on millennium night, will sing again.

The schools not going have rearranged visits after being contacted about the Gay Day by Dome organisers, the New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC).

"I take the view that this was not an appropriate environment in which to send very young pupils," said Andrew Baker, headteacher of Westcliff High School in Essex.

But the Chorus denies the day has been organised to make a political statement and NMEC says it only contacted schools to explain what was happening - and not to warn them off.

'Simply a fun day at the Dome'

Gay rights activist Peter Tatchell has accused both the NMEC and schools of "blatant bigotry" and urged homosexuals to boycott the Gay Day.

The chorus has distanced itself from Mr Tatchell's remarks.

"It's a simply a fun day at the Dome, there is no demonstration, there is no political activity," said chorus member Jeremy Haneman.

"It started out as an idea for a few gay people to invite their friends along and it snowballed from there."

Tickets have been selling well and NMEC hopes to exceed the 43,600 figure of last weekend, which was the highest combined total for Saturday and Sunday so far.

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See also:
07 Feb 00 |  UK
New Dome chief outlines vision
08 Feb 00 |  UK Politics
Government struggles to lift Section 28

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