Page last updated at 20:16 GMT, Thursday, 3 September 2009 21:16 UK

Gay Pride despite protest warning

The organisers of Reading Pride have said the event will go ahead this weekend despite a planned protests by the National Front.

The annual festival will be held in the Berkshire town on Saturday.

A parade will make its way through the streets and the Market Place to the festival site at Kings Meadow Park.

Thames Valley Police confirmed a protest was planned and that they would be in attendance. Reading Pride said it valued "freedom of expression".

A spokesperson for the event said: "Reading Pride celebrates diversity across the Thames Valley and aims to eradicate discrimination against members of the LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] community.

We value all opinions both culturally and politically
Reading Pride statement

"It is through the parade and festival that the charity hopes that visibility will assist educating members of the public.

"Reading Pride believes in equality, diversity and freedom of expression from all groups in society.

"We value all opinions both culturally and politically.

"We are more than happy to open dialogue with any group and hope that we could learn from each other.

"Reading Pride hopes that the National Front's protests will allow the parade to pass through the town without incident."

Ch Supt Richard Bennett said: "It is the duty of the police to maintain public safety and strike a balance between allowing protesters their right to lawfully demonstrate whilst making sure there is minimal disruption to the local community.

"Thames Valley Police will take this approach to the events on Saturday 5 September and we will liaise with the event organisers to ensure that this day passes off safely and with minimal disruption."

No-one at the National Front was available to comment.

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