A Brighton gay rights activist was warned her safety might be at risk by Brighton police because they believed she was organising a “undesirable” beach bbq that she knew nothing about.
Beth Granter of Queers Against Cuts was called at work about a bbq which the police and council said she was organising and which they believed could “attract undesirables”.
But she knew nothing about the event, and is still unsure which bbq they are actually talking about.
A later email from police said the event had been posted on the Queers Against Cuts Facebook page, but didn’t specify the post. The only people who have recently posted on that page who are also organising a bbq have not been contacted by the police.
Now Beth, who organises events such as the To Russia With Love protest over Russia’s anti-gay laws during the Winter Olympics, says she is wary of organising anything in the future in case they attract the same attention.
Beth said: “At first they told me my safety was at risk so I was anxious about that. But then when I read the letter and it was telling me about some event I didn’t know anything about it felt quite threatening.
“I got the impression that even if I told them it wasn’t anything to do with me, they wouldn’t believe me.
“It’s either incompetence, or intimidation, either of which are quite bad. It’s a waste of taxpayers money and it makes me feel afraid of organising important, peaceful community events. I don’t think I deserve this.”
This is not the first time Beth has been contacted by the police over posts made on Facebook. In 2012, her group Queers Against Cuts was almost stopped from taking part in the Pride parade after police contacted organisers after reading posts she made on Facebook.
It was only after Brighton Pavilion MP and Caroline Lucas and gay rights activist Peter Tatchell intervened that she and her fellow campaigners were able to take part – at the very back of the parade.
Detective Chief Inspector Paul Betts, said: “Our role in Pride is to keep people safe and this involves contacting people who may be involved in organising any events.
“We want people to have fun during Pride but want to make sure we talk to people who may be involved in events which attract a lot of people to help them be aware that some people could be using the events to commit offences.
“It is routine to contact people about events they are involved in and talking about, this includes on social media. This is something we have done for the last few years, after privately organised events that got out of hand.
“The letter from Brighton and Hove City Council clearly explains the reasons for contacting her. There was no intention to intimidate and she was not singled out.”